By Mayssem Boukadida (YES 2019-2020, Tunisia, placed by Ayusa in San Antonio, TX)
On February 26, in celebration of International Mother Language Day, Mayssem Boukadida ‘20 brought together a group of six YES alumni and 26 students from L'Académie Sportive et Éducative des Sourds de Tunis (ASEST), an association for the deaf and hard of hearing. The participants were between the ages of 4 and 20 and were interested in the planned workshops and activities. The activity focused on discovering Tunisia’s cultural heritage and learning about civic education. During the event, the group visited the well-known Temple d’eau, or the Water Temple, in Zaghouan to learn about its interesting historical background.
After the tour, the group headed to Dar Zaghouan for a day of icebreakers, group activities, and workshops led by the YES alumni. The group participated in a model UN where they shared their perspectives on topics related to civic education, including freedom, citizenship, nationalism, and human rights. Participants were randomly chosen to represent opposite sides of an argument, and the group would vote on who they thought better advocated for their side of the debate. They also practiced embodying abstract concepts into tangible models using play dough. This activity was inspired by an activity from Mayssem’s criminal justice class at her U.S. host school. Participants used play dough to model concepts such as happiness, society, and fiction. The goal of this activity was to show that, despite their similarities, each participant sees the world differently and has their own unique perspective. During these activities, Mayssem oversaw the coordination and flow of the activities, and guided the other YES alumni in monitoring the participants.
At the end of the day, the YES alumni promoted the YES program to the participants, and explained how the program supports students with disabilities. This activity was inspired by Mayssem’s experience volunteering with youth with disabilities at the Children’s Rehabilitation Insitute Teléton USA in San Antonio, TX. Through that experience, she developed a strong desire to help others and became more community oriented.