The YES alumni network works hard to extend the benefits of the program beyond the one year exchange. This June, the YES alumni in Gaza participated in two events which continued the learning, community, and volunteerism of their exchange years.
On June 17th, 36 alumni came together for an Iftar dinner to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan. The gathering was also a chance to welcome the 15 newly-returned 2016-2017 alumni. While waiting for the Al-Maghrib call to prayer to break their fast, the attendees exchanged stories from their time with YES and discussed community service plans to implement in their home communities.
When the sun was down, the alumni shared a meal to break their fast in the spirit of community and gratitude. They used the opportunity to discuss as a large group what changes they would like the draw on from their time in the US. AMIDEAST’s YES staff participated as well, and advised the new YES alumni on personal development opportunities, community service, and funding opportunities. The evening concluded with a series of selfies and group photos which reflected on the strength and beauty of the YES alumni community in Gaza.
June was indeed very busy time for YES alumni in Gaza, as they also organized a career development training course for the 15 newly-returned alumni and seven of the most active members from the past several years. The 22 alumni participants attended 20 hours of intensive training that aimed at improving their understanding of career development.
During the first four hours, participants were immersed in discussions of leadership styles, team-building activities, and reflections on individual strategies for time management. The following hours focused on training in specific topics, including characteristics of professional success, difference between and significance of hard and soft skills, and professional writing for CVs and cover letters. The course helped recent alumni learn to professionally articulate their unique academic, cultural, and personal experiences. It was also an opportunity for networking and brainstorming ideas for civic engagement and community service.
Overall, both events were a big success and set up the new YES alumni to be motivated members of the larger YES alumni family in Gaza. The YES alumni to came together to learn from one another, reflect on their experiences, and plan community service events for future implementation.