YES Programs



How Seven Alumni Communities Celebrated GYSD 2021

YES alumni in Lebanon holding up colorful scarfs and wearing masks.

In celebration of Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) 2021, YES alumni in 17 countries implemented 42 projects that engaged nearly 900 people. YES alumni always make a big impact for GYSD! And while it would be impossible to highlight every project, here’s how seven alumni communities celebrated this year.

1) Throughout April, alumni in Lebanon volunteered for several initiatives in celebration of GYSD and to be of service during Ramadan. Amir Hijazi ’08 implemented an annual donation campaign to provide iftar meals to people in need. Sola Olleik ’19 and Lea Ghandour ’20 volunteered with the Lebanese Red Cross to serve iftar meals in Nabatieh. And Mohamad Issa Jamal ’08 organized and staged a theater show for children, aged 10–13 years old, to raise awareness about bullying. (Photo of theater show above)

2) To celebrate GYSD, 13 alumni in North Macedonia participated in six projects, impacting more than 100 people in their communities. Just to highlight a few — two alumni teamed up with 30 volunteers from the American Corner, Peace Corps, and the Volunteers Center Skopje to organize a cleanup of the Gazi Baba Park in Skopje. In another celebration, Alumni Coordinator Teodora Boshkova ’17 led an online Coffee Chat that included a presentation of past GYSD projects. Six alumni and six finalists talked about GYSD and the importance of youth activism in their communities. And in a third event, nine alumni and four other volunteers gathered for a cleanup and hike on Mount Vodno. Each participant collected one bag of trash, so that 15 trash bags were disposed of at the recycling area at Vodno.

Donation bags lined up outside in Jordan.
GYSD project for refugees in Jordan

3) In Jordan, Farah AlKafaween ’09 and Taj AlRejjal ’11 organized a campaign to provide Syrian refugees in AlMafraq with essential donations in partnership with several humanitarian organizations, including the AlSalam Help Foundation, the Lions Club, and the Human Doctors Project. In the first phase of the project, the alumni provided over 200 refugee families with wood, heaters, and clean water in February. In the second phase of the project, just in time to celebrate both GYSD and Ramadan, the alumni prepared packages of donated food and clothes for 205 Syrian families. The total value of the donations collected throughout this project was approximately 9,000 USD. In another celebration of GYSD in Jordan, Taj AlRejjal ’11 and Ahmad Alkhawaldeh ’16 created a video about their experience playing football in the U.S. and bringing the sport back home to Jordan. In the video, the alumni shared how the football league is a way for them to give back to their community since it teaches Jordanian youth important life skills like teamwork and leadership.

4) Three YES alumni from Bangladesh and Indonesia and a FLEX alumna from Armenia held a virtual GYSD celebration about volunteerism for 20 youth participants from Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Armenia. Participants learned about the community service projects that YES and FLEX alumni participated in while they were in the U.S. and as alumni. The alumni also talked about the value of volunteerism and encouraged participants to give back to their communities.

Two YES alumni add a door on a school building in Nigeria
Project Build a School in Nigeria

5) Alumni in Suriname organized a cleanup on April 9 at the Esther Stichting Foundation, a residential home for people with leprosy (also known as Hansen’s disease), in Paramaribo. The volunteers met and spent time with the facility’s 65 residents in addition to cleaning the yard, planting flowers, and doing housekeeping chores inside the facility.

6) Ana Akaange ’16 and Emmanuel Kpochi ’13 volunteered with Project Build a School for Global Youth Service Day in Nigeria. The project’s goal is to support education by building schools in areas with a high population but few schools, but the project recently came to a halt due to a lack of funding. To assist the project’s founder with seeing it to completion, the alumni convinced a local carpenter to donate his services and five doors needed to finish the classrooms (and the project itself!). Way to flex those negotiating skills, alumni!

7) Alumni in Egypt held a GYSD virtual gathering to plan projects that will increase public awareness and engage the deaf community in Egypt. Participants included 20 YES alumni and 30 other AFS alumni and volunteers. An Egyptian Sign Language trainer from the National Council for Persons with Disabilities taught participants some words and phrases in sign language and spoke about deaf culture and advocacy. Through the discussion, participants developed several project ideas, including creating a phone app to teach and translate Egyptian Sign Language; the creation of a Facebook page for public awareness campaigns, announcements, and events; and organizing Egyptian Sign Language courses.