YES Programs



YES Alumni Grant: New Decade, New Challenges

A screenshot from the virtual conference by youth

By Insaf Abdelmoula (YES 2015-2016, Tunisia, place by PAX in Salt Lake City, UT)

It all started in 2016, after I came back home from my exchange year. The bond you form with other “YESers” is unbreakable, and it was made stronger when I joined other alumni from my YES year to start a youth initiative, led by youth and for youth. We returned to Tunisia motivated and eager to better our communities and help them grow. And that’s how we started Unite the World.

After having studied in American high schools, we felt our own educational system in Tunisia was not built to make leaders. Through Unite the World, we strive to train youth on leadership and soft skills, while also raising awareness on today’s most important issues. We received our first YES Alumni Grant in 2017 to organize an education camp in Kasserine. Fast forward a few years, and our initiative has grown and so have we. Since 2017, we have organized a national tree-planting campaign, more educational camps, and workshops to teach elementary school kids about climate change.

Recently, we received an alumni grant again; only this time, thanks to the pandemic, we had to move out of our comfort zone by organizing our first-ever interactive virtual conference called UWConf: New Decade, New Challenges. Staying true to our mission and vision, the conference was by youth and for youth — 20 high school and university students. Each day of the three-day event was centered around a theme: the environment, social issues, and political/economic issues. We brought in subject matter experts to speak on these topics, and other trainers led workshops about soft skills, including how to pitch an idea and brainstorm solutions. Participants also benefited from open discussions with one another. They engaged in debate sessions about a film that was assigned to them to view.

The participants were very pleased because the conference was interactive and allowed them to learn many things from different fields. At the end of the conference, participants used this knowledge to come up with solutions to problems in their communities and pitched the ideas to the organizers and trainers. We hope our participants feel empowered and motivated as young leaders to improve their local communities and beyond.

Without the YES program, we wouldn’t be as motivated and driven to conduct such a project. So, for that, we thank the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for believing in us and giving us the opportunity to be YES alumni in the first place and for the grants that have allowed us to empower youth in our country.