By Ghizlane Akourim (YES 2015-2016, Morocco, hosted by FLAG in Indianapolis, IN)
Discover yourself and your origins.
Surpass your limits.
Exchange our world.
Strengthen interfaith dialogue.
Change for the better.
These are some of the AMAZING but real feats I experienced during my YES year in Indianapolis in 2015-2016.
Being a cultural ambassador was an immense honor and responsibility to be granted at 16 years old. It was beyond travelling to another country, grasping the language, and studying in a different school system for a year – it was being part of a community, sharing noble values, spreading awareness, and creating dialogue.
The YES program influenced me in many ways. It changed my perspective about myself and the youth of the world, from how my host parents and my local coordinator treated me to the way in which high schoolers were viewed as leaders in the community. The biggest lesson I learned from the YES program is that I can be a changemaker and achieve anything I put my mind to.
Today, I proudly call myself a youth advocate. I see potential in every young person. I teach English, mentor kids, give back to my community, and share, share, share. I am part of several organizations and clubs to fulfill my passion of facilitating workshops and meet-ups for youth. Giving back to my community was a notion I picked up from American culture. I was awed by how coming together as a community can build better understanding and create miracles.
I am very excited to serve as a DCO Alumni Instructor this August. I am eager to meet the new generation of YES students and be part of their journey. I will share with these young ambassadors as much as I can and create a space for them to learn and prepare to nail their year in the States. My own DCO was definitely one of the highlights of my program year. Now, my turn has come to make it memorable and fruitful for others.
Dearest 2018-2019 YES Ambassadors,
Make it to the 4H center safely. You are welcome to come with all your fears, doubts, and insecurities. You are welcome to come with your excitement, motivation, and joy.
Let’s get you ready for this adventure. Let’s remind you of how special you are and how prestigious the program you are now a part of is.