By James Perez Jr. (Philippines, 2019-20, placed by AFS-USA in Wichita, KS)
For the past two years, the world temporarily stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including exchange programs, community engagements, and other opportunities. As a YES alumnus who went home in the middle of a global health crisis, it was a tough time. Upon going home, opportunities to give back to our community were held in the virtual space; all activities had to be done remotely without working on the ground with beneficiaries of changemaking projects and fellow alumni.
With the pandemic situation getting better, it was a whiff of fresh air to be able to participate in the in-person 2022 YES alumni meeting, where 30 alumni from all over the country gathered to share stories of successes, challenges, and resiliency in making a positive impact. Most importantly, the meeting paved the way for the development of changemaking projects in various communities, to be implemented during the International Day of Youth on August 12. YES Alumni Association Philippines worked collaboratively to improve each project, provide solutions for existing problems faced by each alumni community, and to pursue projects as one YES Philippines.
The meeting inspired me more than ever to pursue delivering positive changes in my community despite the challenges we are facing. As matter of fact, through the gathering I, along with four other alumni from my community, have come up with a project: Empowering Women Entrepreneurs of the Bangsamoro (Project W.E.B.). The said project is centered towards providing a 2-day extensive training for women entrepreneur associations who are members of the Social Welfare Committee (SWC), the womens wing of Moro Islamic Liberation Front. It aims to provide equal opportunities and improve the quality of life of the Bangsamoro women through training on entrepreneurial knowledge and skills that facilitate growth, employment, ecological balance, and poverty reduction in the Bangsamoro Region.
The 2022 YES Philippines Alumni Meet is just a beginning of a new and better YES community that is ready to make an impact, deliver opportunities, and catalyze progress.