By Mira Sharayri (YES 2016-2017, Jordan, placed by AFS-USA in Two Harbors, MI)
Attending the YES Connects Conference gave me a feeling of deep nostalgia. Not only did I learn so much in so little time, but I also got the chance to chat with other YES alumni to whom I could relate. It was really nice to have the opportunity to switch between learning and yearning.
As for learning: I attended so many sessions during the YES Connects Conference that I almost lost count! I took sessions on photography, mental health, project management, pitching, media literacy, budgeting, and networking!
I am a medical student, and I actively use YouTube and Instagram to share study advice and tips, so my absolute favorite session during the YES Connects Conference was "Basics of Photography." During this session, I learned a lot about how to effectively use the cameras I own for photography, videography, and social media.
As a member of the YES alumni community and the IFMSA-Jordan Committee at my university, I always seem to be leading, organizing, and attending projects, which made me pick the sessions "Pitching and Persuading" and "Budgeting is an ART." I felt like these were skills that I needed to improve on for future events and projects.
As for yearning: Beyond the rich knowledge that I gained during the conference, I felt at ease knowing where my fellow YES alumni are at in life right now. I was very happy to share memories with everyone about my exchange year—happy moments, sad moments, as well as embarrassing ones.
I felt inspired by many of the YES Connects facilitators, but also the participants, mainly by Ashiru Abubakar (YES 2011-2012, Nigeria, placed by American Councils in Jacksonville, IL). Ashiru shared with us some of his brilliant ideas about contributing to the Deaf community in Nigeria by volunteering and advocating for children with disabilities! He really inspired me and other participants to learn more about sign language.
I also connected with Mohammad Issa Jamal (YES 2007-2008, Lebanon, placed with Ayusa in Bandera, TX), who told me that he is visiting Jordan soon. We are planning to meet up in person and I thought to myself, "wow, this conference is really connecting us!"