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YES Stories

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From May 18 to June 3, 16 YES alumni from 13 countries participated in the YES Stories Workshop. This workshop was presented in partnership with The Story Studio, a premier storytelling educational organization that teaches students the art of storytelling, as trained by some of the most accomplished storytellers across the country. 

Over the course of three weeks, the workshop participants were guided to reflect on the emotions they felt applying to the YES program, meeting their host families for the first time, experiencing culture shock, navigating feelings of homesickness, and creating lifelong relationships. Participants asked themselves questions such as: How did the YES program change your perspective? When did you surprise yourself while living in the U.S? What drew you to the YES program? With the guidance of these prompts, in addition to instruction by The Story Studio facilitators, the participants learned how to turn their YES memories into captivating, dramatic, funny, powerful, and engaging stories. 

In order to tell an impact story, the facilitators introduced the five-point story structure, which became the foundation of the workshop. This story map encouraged the participants to be intentional about every single moment of their story, from the set up, rising action, and main event, all the way to the resolution. Not only did the participants become expert storytellers by the end of the workshop, but they also brainstormed methods to use storytelling to create community service projects, advance their professional careers, stay connected with others overseas, and share the impact of the YES program with prospective students and their families. 

Moulkher Ali (YES 2017-2018, Mali, placed by CIEE in Greenville, SC) was one of the workshop participants. Mouklher had the following to say about her three weeks in the workshop. 

“I’m so glad I was able to participate in this small yet exciting journey that was the YES Stories workshop. The workshop was made to not feel like a lecture but more like a learning experience from actually telling our stories. Something I enjoyed in this workshop was the small breakout rooms where we could talk one on one with the other participants. We learned so much in three weeks and hearing the other participants’ stories felt like reliving some of my YES year moments.

Before starting the workshop, I thought the hardest part would be structuring my stories but it turns out the most challenging part was picking the right story to tell. There were so many to choose from! Luckily, with the storytelling skills that I learned, I can continue telling impact stories from my exchange year.

The YES Stories workshop taught me that a story doesn’t necessarily have to be lengthy to be moving or inspirational. I plan to honor this idea by trying my best to share more and more stories with the people around me, even if they have to be as short as thirty seconds, because even those thirty seconds can help bring someone joy.

I want to thank the facilitators and participants for making this workshop motivating, memorable, and truly a rollercoaster of emotions.”

The YES Stories workshop culminated in a final show on June 3, in which seven participants told their stories in full. Following these stories, the remaining participants shared short excerpts from their stories. The final show also included a Q&A during which participants shared their experiences participating in the workshop. Watch the final show below!


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