By Eman Muamar (YES 2018 – 2019, Gaza, hosted by CCI in Bartow City, FL)
I will never forget the moment when I first knew that I was granted the YES Scholarship. That day I decided my goals for my exchange year in the US. My biggest goal was to do voluntary work as much as I can, and now I have been in the US for almost five months. I have learned multiple things about the American culture and I have had the opportunity to achieve my biggest goal for this year. I did 129 hours of volunteering during the time I spent on the program as of December 2.
For me, being happy is making other people happy. My ultimate love for helping other people encourages me always to benefit the society I am living in. The volunteering experiences I have earned as an exchange student have raised my sense of creativity, supported my professional and personal development, made new friendships, and taught me how to deal with different situations.
I had my best time volunteering with my school band. This experience made me meet new wonderful, talented friends. We visited new places and schools through Friday football games and competitions. I have learned from the time I spent with the high school band that working hard and getting tired is nothing compared to your happiness when you succeed and achieve what you wanted.
I am also volunteering with First Baptist Church, where my host family attends church. I volunteered multiple times at the church kitchen and also with the children’s church on Sundays and Wednesdays. Helping at the church benefits me a lot, I have met new people in addition to spending time with children, playing with them, and telling them about my life and my country. Seeing the smiles on their faces makes me the happiest person and gives me positive energy towards everything in life. The most remarkable benefit I personally liked is that I learned about Christianity and understand it better. Having knowledge of other religions in addition to my religion is something I always wanted to have. I am happy to be able to know about Christianity as I am looking forward to know more about it and about other religions.
Volunteering in events in the city of Bartow, like Chalk Walk and Halloween carnival, got me involved more in my host community. Joining Interact Club and helping my school teachers in their classes were incredible opportunities to get me more adjusted and involved in my school.
I feel my input in each of these areas has a great impact on my life and has also truly benefited each area I have touched. I will never stop doing voluntary work, and I am looking forward to expand in doing it more and more.