We are pleased to announce the May 2020 YES Student of the Month, Amna Shahzad, from Pakistan. Amna is placed by World Link and hosted in Visalia, CA where she attends Redwood High School.
Amna is an exceptional student and ambassador, devoting 167 hours to volunteer service and giving 57 cultural presentations in her host community. She also finds ways to utilize her talents as an artist, writer, and singer to help her community.
Amna has not let the impact of COVID-19 stop her from serving others. She adapted her Global Youth Service Day project to help solve a pressing issue for schools all around the world. Amna developed an anti-bullying campaign by compiling the stories of her peers into an eye-opening and eye-catching video. As part of the project, she asked people to sign an anti-bullying pact to show support of her mission. Amna said she was surprised to learn how many people have been affected by bullying and noted that everyone may “face problems and issues in their lives and that we should always stay strong.” She also found encouragement in the positive and uplifting responses she received from participants. In addition, as she altered her project, she learned a lot about the importance of flexibility in the face of changed circumstances.
Before the pandemic, Amna was a regular volunteer at an after-school program and a church childcare program, making crafts and teaching songs to children. At a community carnival, she drew intricate henna tattoos on attendees. She and fellow World Link student, Goga, from Georgia, sang the duet, “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” to the elderly in a nursing home during the holidays. She was also a counselor at a science education camp, raised $240 for Relay for Life, and provided meals to the underserved.
Amna is always ready to learn something new and stays focused on self-improvement. At Redwood High School, she joined an Automotive Construction Class and now knows the basics of fixing cars. She dreamed about taking a digital art class and now creates beautiful works of art using a digital pen and screen. Two of her pieces were awarded “Best in Show” and were printed and hung in the educational conference center. She also used her graphic design skills on a project for FBLA. Amna shared her musical skills in the school choir and musical, joined the chess club and tennis team to learn each game, is teaching herself guitar, and even started a band with other students. Amna is taking this extra time she now has at home to create more art, practice her singing, and write music. By sharing her pieces, she spreads a positive light, much needed today. You can watch Amna's heartfelt and uplifting rendition of "I See The Light" on the YES Facebook page.
Reflecting on her exchange, Amna said that the experience has broadened her perspective on the world, replaced her self-doubt with confidence, and provided her with the tools to make a difference. “I am glad I got so many volunteering opportunities here,” she said. “I will continue doing it in my home country. From this experience I have learned that there is so much we all can do together. And there are always people standing beside you to help you accomplish your goals.”