By: Fatma Ayad (YES 2021-2022, Libya, placed by Ayusa in Marengo, IN)
Returning home after the lifechanging experience of the YES program was challenging. At the same time, I came back energized and motivated to improve my community, apply the new skills I had acquired, and to become a leader. I came home with a fresh perspective on the world. I became a better version of myself; I acquired the confidence, responsibility, and open-mindedness that I could only have gotten through challenging myself to travel across the world at just 16.
The YES Alumni Association Libya embraced me with open arms, and I was eager to get involved. I also joined the Lybotics Geniuses Team, a robotics team in my community, even though I had no prior experience, because the YES program had helped me become someone who fearlessly approached new challenges.
Returning to my Libyan high school also required a lot of flexibility and adjustment after spending a year in an American high school. For example, I had to relearn how to do math in Arabic (and to read equations from right to left!). I also started working part-time as a teacher at an international school, where I was able to apply the leadership skills I had learned through YES.
Despite how busy I have been between school, work, and volunteering, I still have stayed connected with all the wonderful people I met during my exchange year. I often catch myself reminiscing on the memories I made with them, and I am grateful for how they helped shape me into the person I am today. It has been a full year since I returned to Libya, and I have seen how I am more confident, resilient, and fearless. YES showed me how to be a leader and to not be afraid.
Now, whenever I need to introduce myself, I like to say that I’m Fatma, I’m Libyan, and I’m a YES alumna!