By Jesse Maikarfi (YES 2015-2016, Nigeria, hosted by AFS in New Lothrop, MI)
The moment I walked through the terminal of Bishop International Airport in Flint, Michigan, I knew my life would never be the same. With a mixture of excitement and anxiety, I walked to meet my host family, not knowing what to expect. Little did I know that the journey was about to transform me. Through the lens of my YES year, I grew as a leader and learned about a new culture and new set of values, while also sharing my own. And the fire of community service was ignited and is still blazing.
Throughout my YES year, I learned many valuable lessons from volunteering, doing numerous presentations about my country, and getting involved in extracurricular activities and family engagements. My YES year was the opportunity of a lifetime; it shaped my life and gave me the platform to be a better individual, a role model to inspire others and bring positive change to my community.
During my YES year, I volunteered with the Boy Scouts, a local church, and my school. Those countless hours I volunteered helped me realize that the little things matter. No matter how insignificant what you’re doing seems, it matters. You never know who you will affect with a small deed. Upon my return home, this knowledge motivated me to keep volunteering, doing little but impactful things for other people. My biggest satisfaction in life is seeing the joy that these little things bring to people's faces.
I am excited to have been chosen as a 2018 YES DC Orientation Alumni Instructor because it gives me the opportunity to work with amazing young people from all over the world, help them discover themselves, serve as a role model, and get them ready for their new adventure being an exchange student. I will also have the opportunity to interact and network with amazing minds and future world leaders (a.k.a. fellow YES alumni). I am very thankful for the opportunity to be a DCO Alumni Instructor, and I cannot wait to share the experience with the newest group of YES students and the DCO team!