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Featured Five: Creativity and Inclusion

Mars Rover 1

The most prominent alumni projects this month stood out for two main themes: "outside the box creativity" and promotion of inclusion for persons with disabilities. Enjoy reading what our YES alumni have been up to!

NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge

The clever and creative YES alumni team of Aryan Andaleeb Azim (YES ’18) and YES ’19: Rubaiyet Islam, Tasnia Mustafa, and Sadia Alam designed a model rover for the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge and presented it for the first time at a STEM rally in Dhaka, Bangladesh in December. They also displayed their model at a Robofair organized by the American Center Makerspace. But these events are only the beginning! The alumni will compete with their rover at the NASA competition in Huntsville, Alabama in April. Aryan and Rubaiyet initially became interested in robotics after joining the robotics teams at their American high schools during their exchange years.

Mars Rover 2
The "YES Rover"

March for Disability Rights

In honor of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Filip Trajkovski (YES ’19) organized a march in Kumanovo, North Macedonia in collaboration with Poraka Nasha, a center for children and adults with disabilities. Filip, whose brother has Down syndrome, organized the march to promote the inclusion and equality of persons with disabilities. More than 160 people participated, including middle and high school students, Red Cross volunteers, local activists, and other local citizens. Participants carried signs with messages about human rights, and marchers with and without disabilities held hands as a sign of solidarity. Filip also gave a speech about social inclusion and the importance of supporting organizations that champion the rights of persons with disabilities.


Sing So They Can Bark

After volunteering at the Al-Rahmeh Animal Shelter in November 2019, alumni in Jordan learned that the shelter is struggling to make their monthly rent and purchase dog food and cleaning products. Ashraf Abuelidam (YES ’15) and YES Abroad student Austin Shadowen organized the fundraiser Sing So They Can Bark: Charity Karaoke Night for Dogs. Nine alumni volunteered at the fundraiser, which was held at the Classic Rock Cafe in Amman. The project team charged five Jordanian dinars (about $7 USD) as an entrance fee, which included dinner and soft drink. The cafe was at a full capacity with over 130 guests attending the event. The equivalent of $860 USD was raised, and a number of people signed up to adopt dogs from the shelter!

Color-A-Thon

Safira Bibi (YES ’13) and YES ’17: Esha Riaz, Aliza Fatima, and Sarah Qureshi implemented a workshop in Karachi, Pakistan for 40 visually impaired teenagers to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The alumni led participants in creative art activities with the goal of allowing them to express their creativity. For many of the participants, it was their first experience painting or drawing. One of the alumni project leads, Safira, is visually impaired. She recently attended the YES Inclusivity Workshop in Ghana and has long been a champion for disability rights and inclusion.

Color A Thon
Color-A-Thon

Training Workshop on Disability Rights

In December, ten alumni held a training workshop on disability rights and advocacy at a school for the deaf in Bamako, Mali. With the help of two sign language interpreters, the alumni discussed disability rights in Mali, how to advocate for persons with disabilities, and ways to promote diversity and inclusion. The alumni learned several words and phrases in sign language from the 42 participants and shared information about how high school students with disabilities can participate in the YES program. 

Mali Disabilities Ws
Disabilities Workshop in Mali

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Tell us what cultural exchange means to you and why you think it is important!

Check out this month's story prompt at bit.ly/YESstorywriting and submit your story!

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