By Aljood Alfeeli (YES 2019-2020, Kuwait, placed by ACES in Oregon, OH)
One of the most valuable life skills I learned during my exchange year was the power of giving back to your own community. The privilege of being able to give to others with a kind word or a small gesture may seem like it means very little, but it can change someone’s day. I am proud to say that I’m a YES alumna because during an exchange year, you go through immense change. Without change there is no growth.
Upon completing my last year of high school in Kuwait, I decided to continue my education abroad in Australia. Studying abroad in college is a completely different experience than a high school cultural exchange but it brought countless fond memories of my year in the US and my time volunteering. One of my best memories of volunteering was being a teaching assistant. My host mom was a volunteer teacher at the local mosque’s Sunday school kindergarten class, teaching the basics of Islam. This experience taught me about managing a class and caring for children’s needs. Volunteering also served as a coping mechanism from my homesickness and helped me make friends and adjust to my new community.
Balancing university studies and life, I managed to fit in time to volunteer with the Tzi Chi foundation. This foundation is a non-profit, non-governmental, humanitarian organization that strives to give assistance to underprivileged communities through school tutoring for children with refugee backgrounds. It was an honor to be involved with this foundation and inspire young children using education.
I want to thank the YES program and Amideast Kuwait for giving me this opportunity to share my experience and inspire young people to strive for the best