YES Programs



YES Changemaker Workshop: Inspired to Create Change

Nurin and other participants with bags

By Nurin Syahmina binti Sharif (YES 2017-2018, Malaysia, placed by AFS-USA in Cortland, Ohio)

A good friend once told me, “The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.” Last month, I attended a YES alumni Changemaker workshop in Alexandria, Virginia. That week has sparked me to think that I can change the world, or maybe a community. Start small and let the ripple effect take over. 

Nurin presents in a conference room
Pitching my project idea

Developing an action plan for implementing an impactful local service project is an extensive task. Thankfully, this workshop provided comprehensive guidelines and tools. One of the things I learned that caught my attention the most is the concept of “finding your sweet spot.” Identifying and using our skills and passions to tackle the problems we want to address helps develop an impactful and sustainable project. The midpoint of the three (skills, passions, and problems) is the sweet spot. It helps keep us motivated to launch our project and help others. When our skills and passions combine to hit the sweet spot, we are more determined to solve the problem in our community. Moreover, when it comes to brainstorming ideas, I learned that it is best at the initial stage to use divergent thinking — the sky’s the limit. Then, use SMART goals to make it realistic.

Nurin with a banner

The chance to meet YES alumni from other countries like the Philippines, Egypt, Mozambique, Kenya, Turkey, South Africa, and the U.S. this year is very surreal. They helped me a lot by giving me the confidence to pursue my idea. I am lucky to have them as such good friends. One of the things I loved about this workshop is that we were always encouraged to openly give feedback to each other and work collaboratively. I was always in awe listening to their perspectives and plans. 

It’s a sign of healing from the hectic pandemic for us to be able to come together with the knowledge, skills, and passion to find common ground in becoming global changemakers. The alumni are my support system and inspiration to change. They push me to do better for myself and for my community. If we ever meet again, the joy we shared in each other’s company will enlighten us again. 

Nurin with her friends

By attending this workshop, I gained knowledge from the trainers and was inspired by learning from the YES alumni and hearing their future plans as changemakers. The experience that I’ve had working with Street Law and the knowledge that I gained from this workshop will help me continue my dream of promoting legal literacy to the people, especially to those enthusiastic, underprivileged children who are eager to learn and should be aware of their rights under the law.

I’m so grateful to the U.S. Department of State, AFS-USA, and AFS Malaysia for this opportunity. Now, I am ready to call myself a changemaker.