Pictured above: Meriam helping a teacher set up her classroom at Divisadero Middle School
In just a short time in Visalia, CA, October YES Student of the Month Meriam Hajjem (YES 2018 - 2019, hosted by World Link) from Tunisia has made a splash in her community, school, and family.
Meriam’s service hours are adding up quickly with her regular volunteering schedule; they already stand at 48. Meriam babysits children of parents recovering from substance abuse during their weekly meetings. Every Friday, she dedicates three hours to feeding the homeless.
She is kind-hearted. A low-income mother was in need, and Meriam eagerly helped with the baby shower thrown by the local church. A middle school teacher needed help preparing for the year, so Meriam organized her classroom before school started. At the VA Office, she helped sort over 2,000 American flags that will honor the graves of fallen veterans.
This month Meriam worked for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life fundraiser. She and her exchange sister Teodora from Montenegro set up a table at the local grocery store where they offered to decorate luminarias (candle-lit paper ornaments) in memory of a loved one. They raised almost $200 in one night. On the day of the Relay, Meriam set up stages, registered participants, served breakfast, set up the luminarias, and walked in the event, not leaving until 11 p.m.
Meriam prepared a beautiful presentation board about her country and shared it with her community during a back-to-school night. She was excited to perform traditional dances for a large audience at an antiques road show. She also joined in presentations at the local elementary school library with fellow exchange students. One highlight for the children was getting their names written in Arabic.
A good student at Mount Whitney High School, Meriam is also making the most of extra-curricular opportunities. She has joined the Outdoors Club, Feminist Club, and Hip Hop. With the Drama Club, she is rehearsing for a role in the fall play. In choir, she is preparing for several concerts this year. With Pioneer Partners, she and club members have lunch with students with disabilities once a week. With her schoolmates in Key Club, she is preparing to volunteer with the Salvation Army for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
According to Meriam’s host dad, it is impossible to not be in a good mood when she’s around. Her energy, positive attitude, laugh, and smile are all contagious. He says she is an amazing daughter and is always engaging. “There is no idle time with her around,” he said. “I wouldn't have it any other way."