YES Programs



Birwaz Art Exhibition

Group of organizers holding their name tags in front of paintings

By Fatma Ayad (YES 2021-2022, Libya, placed by Ayusa in Marengo, IN)

When you cherish a memory or a feeling, you want to preserve it forever. You want to turn it into art and frame it. This was the concept for the YES Alumni Association Libya’s latest project, “Birwaz”, which means frame in Arabic. Birwaz was an art exhibition which supported 25 Libyan artists and photographers from across the country.

During my exchange year, I participated in art club at my high school. I learned about the vibrancy of the art scene in my host community, and the support that artists received. From art competitions to galleries, the community clearly valued creativity.

Collaborative painting on an easel

As an artist myself, I wanted to see that support in my own country. Along with fellow YES alum, Haya Yahmid ‘22, we planned to host an art exhibition: Birwaz. The goals were to stimulate interest in art amongst Libyans, connect youth with the art community, and provide a platform for young Libyan artists to promote the work. Birwaz was also a golden opportunity to showcase Libyan history and culture.

The event was held over two days in Tripoli. There were a number of interactive activities, including a collaborative painting where visitors could add their own art. The event was a huge success, with over 500 attendees, including 10 Arab ambassadors, journalists, artists, and art collectors.

One of the participating artists, Saja Ben Moussa, said “I had an incredible experience with Birwaz displaying my painting (Hosh Albasha). The exhibition was very organized, and I made wonderful connections with fellow Libyan artists from all over the country. It gave me a burst of motivation to continue pursuing my art despite the challenges artists face. I’ll be looking forward to Birwaz 2!”

I am so grateful to all who had a hand in the success of Birwaz, including the YES alumni, volunteers, artists, photographers, Amideast, and the U.S. Embassy. And thank you to the YES program for equipping us with the skills and mentality to lead this exhibition.

Haya Yahmid (YES 2021-2022, Libya, placed by ASSE in Hesperia, CA)