By Mais Alshoman (YES 2021 – 2022, Saudi Arabia, placed by PAX in Kokomo, IN)
During my exchange year on the YES program, I was required to volunteer for at least 25 hours. At first, it sounded like a lot, and I thought that it would be a struggle for me.
One day I went to my host dad’s church to help usher during a Christmas Eve service. As a Muslim, I had never attended a church service and was unsure of what to expect. But I found that other members of the church were interested in my life, my exchange year, and my culture. The moments I spent exchanging cultures with the church members are still some of my favorite memories.
During the services, I was given the simple job of handing out candles and booklets. The warmth and kindness of the community is something that I will never forget. The way Christmas Eve brought everyone together reminded me of the Ramadan and Eid services back home in Saudi Arabia. Many of my service hours were spent helping at the church, performing tasks like serving food to those in need, taking care of children at the daycare, or passing out breakfast during morning services.
I think the best way to find opportunities to volunteer is by thinking of things you already love to do. I wanted to meet the people in my community and was so excited to meet them, so I did just that! Through community service on the YES program, I got to learn more about the open-hearted and generous community with whom I lived and experience an amazing environment of unity among people.
This volunteering was my first experience of giving back. Since then, I was motivated to continue doing so by joining the Compassion Club at my school. We do clean-ups, visit children in need, and spend time caring for others. Our club is based on sharing kindness through our school and community. Currently I am secretary of the club, and my job is to communicate with places we can donate to and help.
I would love for everyone to try community service at least once to see the beauty of it and embrace the rewarding feeling associated with helping your community and people in need.
To read about more YES students and their volunteer experiences visit: Here