Photo: Heba Salem (YES 2011-2012, hosted by AYUSA in Hanover, PA) during the Crowdfunding Course that took place on September 21st and 22nd of 2017.
One of the great things about being a YES alum is knowing that there is a large community of YES alumni when you return home. What many people don't realize is that there is an even larger network of alumni from an assortment of U.S. Department of State programs. In Gaza, alumni of various U.S. Department of State programs recently participated in two big events: a crowdfunding training and a sports networking event.
Twenty exchange program alumni, including Mohamed Zaqout (YES 2010-2011), Basel AlMadhoun (YES 2010-2011), Heba Salem (YES 2011-2012), and Rozan Alfarra (YES 2012-2013) were selected to participate in the Crowdfunding for Positive Change (CPC) training project funded by the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem through the Alumni Micro-Grant Program. The trainees were graduates of YES, Access, Abraham Lincoln Incentive Grants, SUSI, MEPI Student Leaders, and Coca Cola MENA Scholarship programs. They were selected based on their applications which included ideas, a record of their civic engagement, and their English language proficiency.
The four YES alumni joined the other participants to receive 14 hours of CPC training over two intense days. They were introduced to crowdfunding and learned about the skills needed to plan, launch, promote, manage, and close crowdfunding campaigns. They also learned about the different types of campaigns they can create and the various crowdfunding sites they can use to secure contributions for their community service projects, civic engagement activities, and even innovative technology.
Less than a week later, other U.S. government-grant alumni leaders implemented a sports event at the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA). This time Mohamed and Basel joined 23 participants, almost all of whom were primarily exchange program alumni. This event focused on enhancing the networks between the alumni from various programs and years.
Both events were very successful and helped generate new competencies, relationships, and ideas for similar activities with different themes to support the Gazan alumni of U.S. Department of State programs.