By Yasmeen Yusuf (YES 2019-2020, Bahrain, placed by ASSE in Miamisburg, OH)
In November, I was honored to be selected as part of a youth delegation to Brussels to experience the beating heart of the European Union (EU)! During my visit, I attended a European Parliament subcommittee session, and attended meetings with representatives of the European External Action Service, which is the EU’s diplomatic service. I also served as a cultural ambassador by sharing information about Bahrain with the representatives I interacted with.
I was selected for this experience through a six-month leadership program I participated in which educates youth about parliamentary work. At the end of the program, the top ten participants were selected for a delegation to Brussels to experience the European Parliament firsthand.
My experience as part of this delegation taught me about the great importance the EU places on youth and their participation in policymaking. The EU recently announced its first youth action plan, and practically every department we visited emphasized the significance of youth and discussed their methods for engaging them! It was also interesting to observe how they’ve used digital strategies and social media to reach out to younger audiences and adapt to our world’s rising digitization.
My experience as a youth ambassador in Ohio fueled my aspirations to become more internationally involved and pushed me to seek experiences that would increase my exposure to the workings of our global society. The YES program also encouraged me to be more outgoing; during my exchange year, speaking to new individuals became second nature to me. Furthermore, I gained a lot of confidence during my year in the U.S., which helped me optimize my learning outcomes during this visit since I was continuously putting myself out there and not allowing shyness to hold me back.
It’s been more than two years since I turned the last page on my journey in the U.S. and I can safely say that the most beautiful part of being an exchange student is that your role as a cultural ambassador stays with you long after your year abroad is over. The lessons I learned were planted in me during my time in the U.S. and they bloom and blossom with each passing day!