By Layan Albraik (YES 2018-2019, Saudi Arabia, placed by World Link in Des Moines, IA)
Learning about diverse cultures and backgrounds during my exchange year broadened the way I think in many ways. Listening to exchange students from all over the world made me realize how powerful youth are and how possible change really is. Building off these experiences, I was privileged to participate in the AFS Youth Assembly Changemakers Track which was held at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia this August. The programming included a balance of theory and practical application, which equipped us to address future challenges. We crafted a design challenge to address a need in our community. Through these activities, I couldn’t help but reflect on the synergies between this experience and my YES year.
After the changemakers programming, I was honored to represent the Saudi youth delegation at the UN headquarters for International Youth Day. The celebration began with an inspiring opening address by Csaba Kőrösi, the president of the General Assembly. We then attended panels on jobs, education, climate change, and institutional accountability. We’re on a mission to change things through stimulating debates and lasting solutions. As YES alumni, we are primed to make meaningful contributions – armed with a global perspective, empathy, and a commitment to collaborative change.