YES Programs



CEW Was An Exquisite Experience

Omar holding the Jordanian flag at the US Capitol

By Omar Alsubehat (YES 2023-2024, Jordan, placed by IRIS in Davenport, IA)

March 16-22 was the best week of my life! That was the week of the Civic Education Workshop, a one-week workshop for on-program YES, FLEX, and CBYX students to go to Washington, D.C. to learn about civic engagement, American culture and history, leadership skills, and so much more. I had the honor to be selected after writing about a social, political, or economical issue that my home country is facing and how to solve it.

During the week, I participated in seminars on media literacy, leadership, public speaking, grassroots advocacy, and disability rights. My favorite session was about life as a diplomat and careers in diplomacy. We met with U.S. Department of State officials to talk about diplomacy and its principles, as well as the life of a diplomat. We also got to visit monuments and memorials in Washington, D.C., such as the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. We learned about the monuments, their history, and the important role these figures played in shaping their country.

Omar holding the Jordanian flag at the White House

We also visited the U.S. Department of State, where we met representatives from the regional bureaus. I got to ask them questions about the relationship and shared interests between the United States and Jordan. We also asked lots of questions about the U.S. and our host states. I really enjoyed listening to Nicole Elkon, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Professional and Cultural Exchanges, talk about cultural exchange and the relationships between the U.S. and our countries.

My favorite activity of the week was Capitol Hill Day, where we visited Capitol Hill and met senators, representatives, and their staff members. I had a wonderful time meeting Senator Joni Ernst from my host state of Iowa. I represented my host community and discussed the future of Iowa and the challenges the state is facing. I also enjoyed talking to staff members who work on foreign affairs about the Jordan-U.S. relationship. After the meetings, I walked around Capitol Hill and saw the amazing architecture and galleries.

I can easily say that this week was the highlight of my exchange year, and I’m so happy to have represented Jordan at CEW. It was a wonderful, educational, and unforgettable week. I am excited to share all I have learned with my home country, host community, and host school.