By Salah Mazloum (YES 2018-2019, Lebanon, placed by IRIS in Des Moines, IA)
When I returned to Lebanon in 2019, the experience was marked by a sense of confusion as I reacquainted myself with my country. I was dealing with reverse culture shock, as well as re-adjusting to the Lebanese school curriculum. I am not alone in these challenges; many of my fellow alumni dealt with similar obstacles. Our collective experiences inspired the YES Lebanon alumni board to create a mentorship initiative, aimed at fostering a supportive alumni network and facilitating the transition of new alumni into leadership roles in the alumni community.
The mentorship program transcends mere emotional support and empowers its participants to become accomplished and self-assured leaders. Central to this initiative is our selection of dedicated alumni mentors, who are adept in their knowledge and willing to impart their wisdom, emotional support and insights to younger alumni. This environment provides new alumni with a space to connect with peers who share their hobbies, interests, academic pursuits, and experiences in the United States. These commonalties foster an immediate rapport and nurture an environment conducive to dialogue and camaraderie.
I host orientation sessions for the mentors and mentees, which set expectations and underscore the benefits of the program. We also have implemented a feedback mechanism, wherein mentors and mentees evaluate the program’s effectiveness on a monthly basis.
Given Lebanon’s escalating economic, social, and cultural challenges, the new YES Lebanon alumni board is rising to meet these challenges by creating a new self-paced academic curriculum. The curriculum aims to bridge knowledge gaps in the Lebanese curriculum.
The YES Lebanon alumni board is excited by the promising initial feedback on the mentorship program. We also know that there is room for expansion and refinement, with the potential to amplify the program’s impact and extend its duration and benefits.