Many of our alumni want to continue giving back to their communities through service after their YES year ends. Maha shares her participation in a peer mentorship program called Proteges.
By Maha Shehab (YES 2014 -2015, Kuwait, hosted by YFU-USA, in Frisco, TX)
Proteges is a program of self-discovery and gaining awareness, where participants gain valuable life experiences through different activities. The program is very diverse in the topics that it covers and the mentors are experts in their field as they guide the “proteges” through their journey. At the end of the six weeks, using the skills and knowledge gained, proteges come up with an idea and work on a project that aims to serve the community.
In my experience, Proteges was a very eye-opening experience. I was pushed out of my comfort zone every day which helped me gain confidence and gain many skills that have helped me even after the program. Furthermore, the program allowed me to explore new aspects of myself which I was unaware of. In my cohort or rather, “generation,” (Generation 6), I was appointed to be the coordinator of the project we worked on. My role was to check the progress of the project, check that everything is done with considering the timeline we have set to reach our goal. I also had to set meetings, make sure the code of conduct is being followed and that communication is effective between me and the members as well as amongst each other.
By completing the YES exchange program and studying a whole year abroad, I mainly learned how important is it to try new things and get out of my comfort zone. I did that by joining the theater club, choir as well as joining the tennis team. Getting involved in many activities gave me an opportunity to explore my new interests, meet new people, and learn more about them and their cultures. This made me curious and made me want to learn more and try new things.
Being in a completely different environment from home I also learned to be flexible and manage different situations on my own, thus I learned to be independent. Finally and most importantly, through the YES Program, I was able to improve my English language and communication skills. Overall, the YES Program was life changing, and an unforgettable experience that taught me many lessons that I benefit from till this day.