YES Programs



Alumni Spotlight: Jehad Oumer

YES alumnus, Jehad Oumer, at graduation.

Jehad Oumer (YES 2016–2017, Libya, placed by AFS-USA in Washington, D.C.)

I have been interested in technology since I was a child and I am thankful to my parents for always supporting my curiosity. My interest translated into a hobby just before I joined the YES program while I was spending my free time working on DIY robotics projects. During my exchange year, I got the opportunity to join the robotics club at my host school in Washington D.C., where I was able to express and share my interest in robotics with a team of like-minded individuals. We took part in several robotics competitions around the D.C. area and after returning to Libya, I was part of the Libyan team that participated in the FIRST Global Challenge robotics competition. 

Over the past five years I have implemented several projects and initiatives focused on my passion for technology. In 2018, I started the TechMakers Project, which I was able to implement with the financial support from the YES Alumni Grants and the Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF). The goal of the TechMakers project was to provide technology robotics workshops to underprivileged public schools in Libya. Between 2018-2019, we implemented workshops at 16 public schools across four municipalities in Tripoli, Libya in collaboration with local organizations. Two-hundred and four students in middle school and high school were trained on the basics of robotics, problem-solving, and prototyping.

YES alumnus, representing Libya in FIRST Global Challenge 2017 in Washington, D.C

In 2020, I launched the Annir initiative, which is a nonpartisan digital initiative specialized in raising awareness about media literacy and digital safety. The Annir Initiative was launched with the support of Hexa Connection, a Libyan NGO concerned about community development technology and has contributed to fact-checking in three municipal elections in Libya. Annir works on creating safer digital spaces for Libyan internet users through promoting a culture of verification, critical analysis of media content, and encouraging responsible information sharing. The Annir platform also conducts fact-checking and reports harmful social media content.

Throughout implementing the Annir Initiative, I have participated in several YES trainings and events, including the YES News Literacy Workshop and the YES Media Literacy Webinar, that have helped me gain knowledge and share the success of Annir. Back in 2018, I also had the pleasure of attending the Digital Storytelling Workshop in Bangladesh, and attended the 2019 YES Gender Parity Specialists workshop in Lebanon as a volunteer, which have connected me with other YES alumni around the world. 

I have continued acquiring knowledge and skills while studying Computer Science at the Lebanese American University (LAU) in Beirut, Lebanon. I was selected as a MEPI-TL scholar in 2018 and became an alumnus this summer. MEPI-TL provided a space for me to acquire skills and experience by becoming a leader and taking part in student activities, MEPI communities, and engaging in civil society projects in Libya and Lebanon.

I am currently starting my journey as part of the Erasmus Mundus European Masters Program in Language and Communication Technologies (LCT). I am spending my first year at the University of the Basque Country in Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain. I’m Looking forward to acquiring more knowledge and pursuing research in Computational Linguistics, and discovering the opportunities of merging my research interest with farthing the Annir Initiative.

YES alumnus, along with several YES alumni and YES Program Staff in Bangladesh during Digital Storytelling Workshop 2018.
DSW workshop in Bangladesh

I have learned an uncountable amount of lessons throughout the last few years and during my YES exchange journey. Perhaps the most recurring lesson for me, is that it's really important to build networks to inspire youth, which I’ve been able to do through the YES program. The YES network really grows with you even beyond your exchange experience. I advise current and future YES students to be open-minded in building networks with international friends and colleagues. Treat the YES experience as an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone.