YES Programs



Celebrating YES in Senegal

Panel Speaking at the Event.

Greatness, leadership, volunteering, serving, bridging gaps, exchanging, and understanding are values the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program has stood for since its founding. These values were also celebrated at the 20th Anniversary event in Dakar, Senegal. For Senegal, the YES program has brought nothing but an abundance of success and positive impact.

On Friday, November 17, the American Councils Dakar office celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the YES program at the Ngor Diarama Hotel. For this occasion, about 33 alumni from past generations were present to recognize each other and the program that impacted their lives. This event was also an opportunity to show gratitude towards all the outstanding partners whose close collaboration and support continue to make the YES program possible year after year.

Alum speaks at celebration event

These partners included the U.S. embassy in Dakar, represented by Deputy Chief of Mission Jonathan Fischer and the National Ministry of Education, represented by the Director of English Learning programs, Bea Cisse, as well as local host families and schools of the current YES abroad cohort, and local educational organizations with whom the program works closely. Their help and support in making the YES program successful every year deserves infinite recognition.

Appreciation was the theme of the Anniversary event, especially for the program's alumni. They were recognized and presented with certificates for their commitment to serving their communities and simply being excellent ambassadors of Senegal, the United States, and the YES program. Mouhamedoune Dame Ndiéguène '15 and Maty Diop '12 led presentations about their careers and professional endeavors, including how both have successfully built their businesses. Their words greatly inspired all alumni present, especially those of more recent generations who are just starting to embark on their careers and are starting to see how their YES experience may guide them.


The event's guest speaker was the highly esteemed Dr. Sam Potolicchio, who led YES alumni and YES Abroad students through different global leadership sessions to help strengthen their observation, negotiation, and self-confidence skills to seek more excellent opportunities throughout their lives.

"I am thrilled to be present for the celebration; it was inspirational."

"I can't wait to be more involved and help widen the impact of the alumni community in Senegal,"

"I am grateful for the YES program; it did impact my life in a major way. Can't say thank you enough,"

"Hopeful to celebrate another 20 years."

These are just a few quotes from alumni who attended the celebration. Bringing so many alumni and partners together was an exceptional experience. We smiled, laughed, and bonded. It did not matter who you were or where you were from; the only thing that mattered was sharing our communal love for the YES program and positively impacting the person sitting beside you through a shared smile, a piece of advice, or a simple service of sharing a pen. There could not be a better way to celebrate the YES program. Cheers to the past 20 years of YES and the next 20 (and beyond) years of continued excellence!