By Nazih Raychouni (YES 2014-2015, Lebanon, hosted by AFS-USA in Wichita, KS)
Our YES network in Lebanon has always shown dedication and commitment to our communities. When Lebanon initiated its pandemic regulations on March 9, many of our YES alumni were involved in programs to help people who were highly affected. We have several alumni working with NGOs that provide food and shelter to people in need. Some alumni are giving online awareness sessions about the virus and emphasizing the importance of staying at home during this critical phase. Others are in the hospitals fighting the virus on the front line. In the meantime, the Lebanese YES alumni have developed new online initiatives:
1. Online sessions in collaboration with the U.S Embassy to focus on several alumni engagement topics such as how to write a project proposal, available embassy grants, and how to apply for grant opportunities.
2. The YES alumni community in Lebanon created several hashtags to use in their network such as:
#YESInQuarantine is a series of videos focusing on three topics during quarantine: public health, mental wellness, and entertainment.
#YESFacts is a series of posts about random facts from all around the world, and a way to help alumni share new trivia. Did you know that raisins are dried grapes? I certainly didn’t!
#YES_Talks is a series of posts about different questions to prompt debate and discussion.
#CoronaInspires is a hashtag that alumni could use to share how they have occupied their time during the lockdown, and what inspires them in life.
3. YES Bingo was a game created to look back to our YES journey. Alumni posted this game (in a form of an image) and posted their answers on their Instagram and Facebook stories where they tagged fellow YES peers to join in the fun.
Unfortunately, due to the global pandemic, the current on-program YES students’ exchange years must be cut short, and they must return home earlier than planned. The YES Alumni Board in Lebanon was already working on a “YES Mentorship Program” that will be offered to the newly returned YES alumni. The YES board also collected alumni-made videos giving advice and talking briefly about the struggles they faced when they returned.
We hope that after this pandemic the world will consider differently and become a better place. We hope everyone is staying safe!
Learn more about the YES alumni community in Lebanon and all their projects through the recently launched e-newsletter here!