YES Programs



Birds Love Freedom

YES student Layan stands next to four bird houses she made and holds another one

By Layan Al-Braik (YES 2018-2019, Saudi Arabia, hosted by World Link in Des Moines, IA)

Since I knew that I have to start working on the Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) project. I started to ask myself several questions such as, what will be my project? Who would the project benefit? How and when do I start? What steps should I take to succeed the project? 

While I had all these questions in my mind, one day on my way to school, I saw a lake that never has any water. When I asked my host family why there was no water in the lake, they told me that since the summer there had been a flood. They continued to explain that this resulted in no water in the lake, but that it will be refilled this summer. I thought a lot about my desire to help the city to make the environment around the river an enjoyable environment for people and for birds coming to the lake. 

The idea of building bird houses seemed to me an amazing idea as it will help birds find homes for themselves. It will also bring happiness and pleasure to people who see the birds at the lake as that is how everyone enjoys it, since birds do not like cages, they love freedom. Afterwards, I told my host family about the idea and everyone expressed their admiration for it. I started planning immediately about the materials needed and how to start building. I decided to use recycled wood to preserve the environment and how homes work. Since I take a woodworking class at school, I also told my teacher about the idea. I asked him for some tips that could help me with my project and I also asked if he could help me after school to build bird houses.

My teacher agreed and welcomed my idea. My host mother and I came and we all worked on building the bird houses. Afterwards, my host mother told me she knew someone who could help us because he had the motor saw to help us cut the woods with precision. We went to him and we did two bird houses. These two bird houses were very accurate, which made me feel excited to work more. I learned several ways to build bird houses. A week later, I decided with my teacher to make more houses, so I went after school and built three bird houses that took only an hour to construct. I felt very happy to build houses for birds in different shapes and sizes. 

My goal at the beginning was to create the largest number of bird houses possible, thinking it was very easy, but when I started to work it became clear to me that there was an effort to build only one. In the end, I am very happy to have built six houses. With this project, I accomplished an achievement that made me very proud of myself. I learned that nothing is impossible and that patience is required. I also learned that I should always think of backup plans, and not change the decision to reach my goal, but perhaps the path.

Layan has had a lot of experiences on YES since we last heard from her in November 2018. Read about her cultural presentations for International Education Week here!