YES Programs



DC Area YES Students Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr

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by Jody Axinn, Capitol area Liaison

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Capitol Area Team’s YES students joined an audience of over 500 people for the City of Rockville’s Martin Luther King Day Celebration. As the audience entered, Nate Natasia and Heni Maghfiroh (PAX/YES) from Indonesia, and our newest addition, Deweil Tan from Malaysia, handed out Martin Luther King Day programs with our Public Diplomacy Initiatives brochure.
Each of our 4 YES speakers spoke with a chair or board member of the City of Rockville Human Rights Commission about a peace symbol from their country.
After an African dance presentation grabbed the attention of the audience, Indra Mardiansyah, wearing his fabulous native costume from Indonesia, told about how Indonesia’s Garuda symbolizes unity in diversity. Gaurav Noronha from India followed with a Bollywood dance routine and told about how Martin Luther King Jr. was influenced by Gandhi. His well-researched and comprehensive speech ended in a quote from Gandhi about being the change you want to be in the world.
Marcia José from Mozambique spoke of how her country had been at war for a long time and that her peace symbol is about peace with other people and other countries. Marcia was on stage with Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio before the Mayor handed out the peace awards.
Zechariah Wuni from Ghana encouraged the audience to host an exchange student, saying that it is a way to volunteer all year long toward promoting peace. He talked about the ways YES students are agents for change in their communities, referencing the YES group’s work volunteering at a local soup kitchen and leading interfaith dialogues at several Jewish synagogues. Kittaya (Belle) Kittiprapanan (AFS Thailand) performed in the Richard Montgomery High School Gospel Choir during the show.
After the program, community members came to speak to the students, still dressed in their native dress so they were easy to spot.