Yazan’s world has gotten smaller as he has connected with people from across the globe.
By Jana Zakaria (YES 2019-2020, Lebanon, placed with AYUSA in Villa Rica, GA)
On August 15, I had the opportunity to attend a breakfast meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut alongside six of my fellow YES alumni peers. Dorothy Shea, the U.S. Ambassador in Lebanon, and David Hale, the U.S. Under-Secretary for Political Affairs, hosted this breakfast for us to share our thoughts about our YES experiences and current events in Lebanon.
We began our meeting with a nice cup of coffee to start the day! Ambassador Shea and Under-Secretary Hale began their talk by telling us how important we are to our country as YES alumni. They also asked us questions about our future, and what we’ve been doing during the quarantine to keep occupied. As a youth ambassador, I shared my perspective on current events in Lebanon, and gave a few of my own ideas on how to contribute to a better future.
My peer Riwa also shared, “Under-Secretary Hale’s goal was to listen to us. We talked about what is currently happening in Lebanon, and he asked us what we think is the root problem, and what might be a solution. We all said that a good solution would be to enhance the educational system in Lebanon. We also talked about the YES program and how it changed our lives and our perspectives. Ambassador Shea also said an important note: not all youth will get the chance to go on the YES program. So, what can we do as individuals in our communities to implement change?”
It was very thoughtful of Ambassador Shea and Under-Secretary Hale to offer us emotional support after the Beirut blast and listen to our perspectives. The U.S. Embassy in Beirut has certainly played an important role in our success as YES alumni. Without the opportunities that the U.S. Embassy provided us, we would have never been in a position to share our thoughts with public leaders like Ambassador Shea or Under-Secretary Hale. The U.S. Embassy in Beirut has gone the extra mile to stay connected with the YES alumni.
Moreover, the YES program has also personally benefited me. Thanks to the YES Program, I’ve traveled to a whole new world, where I gained a family from the other side of the globe. One important question Ambassador Shea asked us was: how have we improved our communication skills and how can we use these newly earned skills in our communities? In fact, the YES program never ends.
Both the YES program and the U.S. Embassy in Beirut taught us how to communicate effectively and stay connected to these valuable networks. Moving forward, we will help future YES cohorts make similar memories, especially in this uncertain time. Our country is facing a difficult moment and we can help rebuild our communities with the skills we gained during our time on the YES Program.
Read about the start of Jana's journey on the YES program here!
Ali Al Ghoul (YES 2018–2019, Lebanon, placed with World Link in Visalia, CA)
Razane Hamzeh (YES 2018–2019, Lebanon, hosted by AFS-USA in Buffalo, NY)
Adonis Assaad (YES 2019–2020, Lebanon, placed with AFS-USA in Booth, NC)
Rami Chamas (YES 2019–2020, Lebanon, placed with AFS-USA in Brownfield, TX)
Haya Hawari (YES 2019–2020, Lebanon, placed with CIEE in Eagle Mountain, UT)
Riwa Hassan (YES 2019–2020, Lebanon, placed with Ayusa in Weymouth, MA)