By Luna Atallah (YES 2018–2019, Lebanon, placed by AFS in Naples, ME) and Raneem Diab (YES 2015–2016, placed by AFS in North Mankato, MN)
On March 17, eight YES alumni met with Sara Minkara, the U.S. Special Advisor on International Disability Rights, at the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon. This event was held in recognition of Sara’s notable efforts in advocacy for people with disabilities. Sara shared, “It is so important to be proud of our identities, because it is only then that we can tap into our full potential.”
When people meet Sara for the first time, they automatically notice three identities: that she is blind, Muslim, and a woman. In turn, these observations can influence the assumptions people have about her disability, faith, and role as a woman. Although it is a human tendency to label people and put them in a box, we were reminded of the importance of getting to know people for who they truly are. As YES alumni coming from different backgrounds, meeting Sara was an inspirational moment for all of us.
Sara talked about her experience in advocating for people with disabilities and her hopes to see these peers hold more positions as foreign policy advisors and decision-makers. Sara shared her gratitude for her opportunity at the U.S. State Department and how it has allowed her to fulfill her dreams to create a more inclusive environment. She also noted that she always values the chance to learn from older and more experienced colleagues to help her grow in her own career. Hearing Sara discuss her role in public diplomacy gave us hope that as YES alumni we can help our societies move forward.
In addition to learning more about Sara’s professional experience, we enjoyed being near her genuine and joyful personality. We’d like to thank the YES program, the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon, and the U.S. State Department for opening their doors to youth such as ourselves to meet with inspirational people like Sara who aspire to make the world a better place.