On June 17, 57 West Bank YES alumni came together at the El Khuzama Restaurant in Ramallah to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the YES Program. The event commenced with a registration and mingling period, where alumni arrived and caught up with each other. A photographer captured snippets of the alumni describing the YES program in a single word, which highlighted the impact of the program.
Once everyone had arrived, Maha Hasan, the Amideast Country Director in the West Bank and Gaza, delivered a warm and inspiring welcome speech. She shared her firsthand experiences and highlighted the profound impact the YES program had on her life and the lives of countless others. Following this, Shakir Nairat ‘13 and Amal Abusrour ‘19 delivered TED talk style speeches, where they shared their own YES experiences and how the program empowered them to achieve success in their lives.
Before dinner, Marmar Dawoud, a professional psychologist, led a session for the alumni. Participants were shown images that evoked memories of special places and events from their time in the United States. Through these images, the alumni explored various emotions, such as happiness, sadness, anger, and fear, and discussed how they coped with these emotions and their overall impact on their YES experience.
To foster continued connections with the United States, the alumni wrote messages to their host families and American friends. The anniversary festivities culminated in the cutting of a cake and breaking a piñata. The event ended with an abundance of photographs to capture the memories of the event and joyous dancing.
Ahmed Rayyan ‘19, says “I found the event personally enriching, because it allowed me to reconnect with fellow alumni, draw inspiration from their stories, and reflect on my own transformative experiences, fostering gratitude and personal growth.”
Shakir Nairat (YES 2012-2013, West Bank, placed by AFS-USA in Manchester, MO)
Amal Abusrour (YES 2018-2019, West Bank, placed by PAX in Toutle, WA)
Ahmed Rayyan (YES 2018-2019, West Bank, placed by AFS-USA in Lyons, CO)