YES Programs



From Waste to Wonders

Three girls holding their homemade yellow birdhouse

By Abdel Kader Atrach (YES 2019-2020, Lebanon, placed by AFS-USA in Cedarburg, WI)

During my time in the U.S., I participated in various seminars about global warming and environmental preservation. These seminars inspired me to promote sustainability and ingenuity in Lebanon. I am proud to have created the initiative, “From Waste to Wonders”, to encourage people to see the hidden beauty in waste. With support from my fellow alumni Salah Mazloum (YES ‘19, placed by IRIS in Des Moines, IA) and Marie Claire Al Chalouhy (YES ‘23, placed by PAX in Claremore, OK) we are launching a series of environmental sustainability projects that will take place in North Lebanon over the next six months.

Girls and alumni holding their homemade birdhouses

The first activity in the series was an engaging discussion about waste and environmental protection with the Association des Guides Du Liban, a Girl Scouts organization in Lebanon. After the discussion, we played a variety of games and songs. We wrapped up by building birdhouses out of recycled materials and lots of glitter.

The YES program gave me the gift of confidence and leadership. After returning to Lebanon, I had a passion for challenging myself and sharing the lessons I learned with others. I always think about the John F. Kennedy quote my U.S. history teacher would share: “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” Since then, that’s what I’ve been trying to do in my own community. “From Waste to Wonders” is just one step along that journey.