By Jamil Brillantes, (YES 2015-2016, Philippines, placed by AYUSA in AZ)
COVID-19 has changed everything, including the YES alumni Changemaker workshop that I attended in early November in Alexandria, VA. But even with the required face masks and PCR tests, I feel humbled and grateful to be a part of this workshop.
The YES alumni Changemaker workshop provided me with ample knowledge and skills and helped me better understand my connection to my community to make initiatives for the common good. I saw the active participation of my fellow YES alumni all throughout the workshop. I’ve been implementing and attending other workshops prior to this, but this workshop provided me with new knowledge and deeper understanding.
I learned the importance of connecting your advocacy to the “why” of the project you want to implement. Projects tend to be sustainable if you love what you are doing. Nancy, Bob, Carol, Farrah, and Aziz did an amazing job facilitating and helping us realize the project that we want to implement in our home community. I’m sure that I will utilize all the knowledge and skills that I gained during this workshop to help my local student council and my community when I implement projects in the future. It is hard to choose a favorite session, but some of them would be the session on Passions/Problems: Leveraging your passions and skills for social good and the session on storyboarding.
Lastly, I also learned from my fellow alumni. Radhe from Indonesia and Khumo from South Africa taught me that you have to be passionate to make an impact in your community. Amira and Aziza from Egypt taught me that you need to assess yourself and the local reality to make your project efficient, and I learned a lot more from other fellow changemakers.
I am very grateful to the YES program for providing workshops such as these to the alumni. Clearly, the journey of a YES student does not end after their YES year. In fact, I’d say the end of the program year is only the beginning. I am very proud to call myself a YES Changemaker. I would also like to thank the State Department for giving us YES alumni the opportunity to be trained and really be a changemaker. My journey as a changemaker is continuing, one community at a time.