By Aita Diakhate (YES 2010-2011, Senegal, hosted by AYUSA in Lowell, MA)
While in the U.S. during their YES program exchange year, students are given tools to serve their communities and work towards a better world. YES students learn the value of community service, volunteerism, and giving back. When they come back from their exchange year and become alumni, they always find ways to spread these concepts in their communities and share them with those who did not have the chance they had to experience it in the U.S.
As former participants in not only YES, but also the English Access Microscholarship Program (Access) in Senegal, alumni Abasse Bassene (YES 2013-2014, hosted by YFU in Portage, MI) and Soda Tall Ndiaye (YES 2013-2014, hosted by AFS in Bethesda, MD) along with another Access alumnus initiated the Access Club of Fatick. Access is a U.S. government-sponsored program that helps middle- and high-school age youth build their English language skills, with the intention of helping participants access better employment and education opportunities. Inspired by the YES alumni community, the goal of the club is to gather all the alumni of the Access program living in Fatick with the aim to better serve their community.
“Just like the YES alumni, we would like to be structured and organize activities to give back to our community and participate in the development of our country,” Abasse explained. Seventeen Access alumni showed up to the club’s first meeting on October 13, and together they created different committees for different project areas, including education, community service, and building partnerships. As a result, they organized their first activity on 31. The activity was a radio show on Radio Senegal International about breast cancer, designed to sensitize people in the spirit of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Pink October campaign. Radio Senegal International being one of the most listened to stations in the region, the alumni also used this as an opportunity to promote their newly formed club. Abasse is optimistic about the future of the club, explaining, “there are about 200 Access alumni in Fatick, and we will try to get as many of them as possible involved in our activities.”