By Abdulshakur Abdilah (YES 2018-2019, Tanzania, placed by AYA/AIFS in Scio, NY)
The YES program aims to leave an impression on their students and send them off with skills that will last a lifetime. One of the biggest aspects of YES is volunteerism, ensuring that students know they have the power to impact their communities. This is the ideal that YES Abdulshakur Abdilah brought to his most recent service project at Zanzibar Commercial Secondary School. With the help of six YES alumni and six community volunteers, he was able to conduct a two-week soccer and debate tournament at Zanzibar Commercial Secondary School with the mission of encouraging students to lead volunteer projects of their own.
They split the students into four different teams; Jupiter, Mercury, Laurasia, and Shining Star. Each of the teams participated in both the soccer and the debate tournament, with Shining Star coming out on top in soccer and Mercury winning the debates. The students were given the opportunity to referee the soccer matches while the YES alumni judged the debates. In between each tournament, the alumni held discussions about volunteerism and why it is important for community members to contribute to their society’s development.
Through the playful competitions and discussions, the students of Zanzibar Commercial Secondary School developed lifelong skills and connections with their peers. With over 500 students in attendance, this event provided participating students a platform to network with each other and for alumni to share their experience as YES students and alumni. No point is scored and no debate is won alone, teaching the importance of working together to complete a goal. Participants were encouraged to carry out community service projects and invited to join future YES alumni projects.
This group of YES alumni are setting the bar for the next generation of youth in their community. By putting time and effort in service projects they are showing that community building and volunteerism can and should be fun.