This past Wednesday during International Education Week, two YES alumni, Mohammed Alhammami from Gaza, and Bushra Al-Huthi from Yemen, who now intern and work at AMIDEAST respectively, participated in a live webinar to discuss their time on the YES program, and their current work in international education.
Mohammed and Bushra’s paths to YES took very different turns. Mohammed was a recipient of the English Access Microscholarship Program, as he explained that this scholarship gave him “access” to new opportunities including YES. Bushra both learned about the YES program and applied on the same day at school - the day of the deadline! She commented, “I was really excited about living in the U.S. for a year…and it worked out.”
While Mohammed reflected on his time with the YES Program, he shared, “It was quite an experience. With the culture shock, you start with the high and go through the low, and you feel homesick, but that’s when you learn to enjoy the experience.”
When asked why Mohammed and Bushra decided to pursue careers in international education, they both gave thoughtful explanations. Bushra, who is now a Program Officer with Exchange Programs shared, “For me, it’s the sense of giving back and helping students, because I was once in their position. I feel that education is the most important aspect in a person’s life, and if we’re improving education, we’re improving countries…so we’re building the future of the countries that these students come from. And helping these students throughout their process has been rewarding.”
Mohammed, who is now an intern for the Communications Department remarked, “I reflect upon the changes that happened to me and the growth that I went through. I compare where I was seven or eight years ago to where I am now, and the way I think and view the world. What really pushes me to work in this field, is that I would love for other people to experience the same thing. I would love for them to enjoy meeting people from different cultures, to live in different countries, and get immersed into ‘the host community of the world.’ I think it comes from my own experience, where I view all the positives that happened to me because of international education, and I want people to also experience this.”
During the live webinar one of the viewers asked, “Do you still see yourselves working in international education in five years?” Bushra answered, “I will still be working in education, but I’m not sure where that will be or how, but I’m planning to use the skills and experiences I have to help people in my country, because I’m trying to promote more educational opportunities there, and I want to focus mainly on that.”
Mohammed and Bushra also shared that during their time on YES they gained a second family, and learned about the importance of cultural sensitivity.
Be sure to watch the IEW Webinar at AMIDEAST here!
Mohammed Alhammami (YES 2009 – 2010, Gaza, hosted by AYUSA in West Chester, OH)
Bushra Al-Huthi (YES 2004 - 2005, Yemen, hosted by ASSE in Laurel, Maryland)