By Maryann Danial (YES 2015-2016, Israel - Arab Communities, placed by AFS-USA in Clarksville, TN)
After returning home from the U.S., I finished my last year in high school and started working for a local TV production company. I learned video editing, lighting design, sound editing, and content creation. After three years of working in TV, I needed something new. I felt that there was still so much to learn. I started to look for universities and discovered the Bezalel Academy for Arts and Design in Jerusalem. I was interested in their videography program, which was something new for me and out of my comfort zone.
The YES program not only impacted my life, but also my career. Starting a career in the arts is very challenging and deciding to study at Bezalel, in a new city, was daunting. If I hadn’t participated in the YES program, deciding to chase my dreams as an artist would have been even more difficult. Knowing that I went to the U.S. alone at the age of 15 and successfully finished my exchange year made my experience at university less terrifying.
All the videos that I have created during school are very different from one another and explore personal issues. Creating art is a form of expression for me and letting out my inner thoughts. One of my favorite videos explores the topic of mental health, which I have struggled with in the past. Another video that I’m proud of tells the story of my grandmother teaching me how to make “bamya,” a Palestinian dish.
I gained many valuable skills during my YES year. I learned independence, leadership, creativity, and communication skills. These skills have helped me in my career and in my day-to-day life. Going to high school in the U.S., I got introduced to many different classes that I didn’t have access to back home, such as theater, drawing, graphic design, photography, dancing, cooking, and many others. I encourage all YES alumni to be open when choosing a career. Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams. There is so much out there, so be open and get out of your comfort zone.