YES Programs



Inspiring Others to Dream, Learn, and Achieve

Ken Shamsa And Hassan Speaking With Access High School Students

by Shamsa Abdi (YES 2014-15, Kenya, placed by AYUSA in Atlanta, GA)

I was hosted in Atlanta, where I got a chance to attend Martin Luther King Jr High School. Joining school clubs like Math Club taught me a lot, including how to be a critical thinker. The entire YES program has been a life changing experience for me. It gave me confidence, made me grow as an individual in so many ways and gave me key life-skills I use every day.

Before I was selected for the program, I used to admire how the YES alumni would mentor us and talk about their experience in the USA and how those achievements helped them become change makers in their respective communities. This made me become even more interested in the program because I really hoped that one day, I would also be able to mentor other students and they would see me as a role model.

After my exchange year, I ended up becoming my school’s vice president, and motivating my fellow students became a norm. I joined a volunteer club in my university where I got a chance to work with different orphanages around Thika town in Nairobi, Kenya. This brought back memories of when I used to fully engage myself with community service during my exchange year in the States. 

Ken Shamsa Leading A Talk With Students On Mental Health

Recently I’ve been working with fellow alum Hassan Abdulkadir (YES ’18) on a collaboration with LONAMAC, a community-based, youth development organization in Kenya. We implemented a project helping youth talk about mental health issues and provide them with access to resources and best practices for addressing mental health issues. That was a great honor for me because there’s nothing more fulfilling than knowing that you're impacting the life of your peers.

Earlier this month, we were invited by the ACCESS program and Rukiya A. Mwinyi, Outreach Coordinator at the U.S. Embassy's Public Affairs Section, to speak to approximately 80 high school students about our YES program experiences and how they have shaped us into who we are today. We hope our talk also motivated the students to do well in school and take advantage of every opportunity.

I believe in this quote: “The greatest good is what we do for one another."