International Education Week (IEW) – a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education – is a national effort to promote programs that prepare youth with 21st century skills in today’s globalized world and to attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange life experiences with Americans. Each year IEW takes place the week before Thanksgiving, allowing YES students across America to give thanks for the once-in-a-lifetime scholarship opportunity by sharing about themselves, their countries, and their cultures.
IEW gives YES students across the United States the opportunity to educate Americans about their countries and cultures, and gives YES alumni around the world the opportunity to educate their communities about America and American people. In sharing of themselves, YES students and alumni simultaneously build bridges of mutual understanding and friendship in the place of negative stereotypes, xenophobia, and islamophobia.
This year, as part of a month-long celebration of International Education Week, the YES program hosted an IEW webinar on November 6 at 6:00 PM EST. This webinar was open to current YES students and YES alumni and featured alumni who have shown dedication towards international education through various projects in their home countries. The alumni panel shared practical advice with webinar participants to utilize International Education Week to connect with their host communities. Participants brainstormed creative IEW projects to celebrate international education and build bridges of global understanding between people all over the world. Participants also discussed ways of being self-reflective and mindful during their study abroad experiences and thought more broadly about the impact they are having through the YES program.
Meet the Panelists
Heba Alsaidi is from Gaza, Palestine. She studies English Literature at the Lebanese American University in Beirut, Lebanon. Heba is a 2013-2014 YES alumna and was placed in Lake Stevens, Washington State. She says her exchange year was an eye-opener and showed her the true value of cultural diversity and the satisfaction that comes from shedding comfort zones. "I think that once I got a taste of what being an exchange student in a foreign country feels like, I made sure that I took advantage of my education and turned it into an adventure. I am studying way from home in Lebanon, I have been on exchange for a second time to the U.S. and I am planning to continue my graduate studies while on exchange. My best advice to anyone is to ‘celebrate culture and study abroad’".
Aleksis Satka is from Tirana, Albania. In 2018-2019 Aleksis was hosted by the YES program in Lehi, Utah and attended the Lehi High School. During her exchange year, she was part of the Ultimate Frisbee team and participated in a variety of clubs including Math and Drama. She completed over 100 volunteer hours and became Student of the Year for Family and Consumer Science Classes. During her exchange year, she attended Civic Education Week and Better Understanding for a Better World in D.C. She is currently a Senior in Besnik Sykja, Tirana and is involved in a local Outdoor Ambassadors Club and the YES Alumni Association as a City Representative. "I am very passionate about arts, science, human rights and environmental issues."
Daize Njounkeng is a 2017-2018 YES alumna from Cameroon, hosted in Indiana U.S. Daize is enthusiastic about community services, particularly geared towards children and youth. She works with her fellow YES alumni to carry out projects related to SDGs 2 (Zero Hunger), 3 (Good Health and Well-being), 4 (Quality education), 5(Gender Equality) and 11(Sustainable cities and communities). Daize has succeeded to build an active community of 30 teenagers, serving the community through active volunteering. Daize is a high school senior and takes advantage of every opportunity to learn, develop herself and empower others. She believes empowered youths have the ability to change the world.
Abdullateef Abdullateef is 19 years old and from Kaduna State, Nigeria. He is a YES alumnus from 2016-2017 and was hosted in San Antonio, Texas. Abdullateef now attends a local college in Nigeria and is majoring in civil engineering.
Markal Kelly is an alumnus of the YES Abroad program in Bulgaria from the 2018-19 cohort. He is currently studying at Morehouse college in Atlanta, Georgia in hope of receiving his degree in International studies.
Moiz Rehan (webinar moderator) is from Islamabad, Pakistan. He is a 2012-2013 Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program alum and was placed in Chicago, IL. Moiz completed his bachelor’s degree in Political Science and French from Williams College in 2019 and is currently living in NYC.
IEW Webinar Recording