By Abdulaziz Alkhalid (YES 2009-2010, Saudi Arabia, placed with PAX in Richmond, IN)
The YES alumni committee in Saudi Arabia gathers periodically to brainstorm community service initiatives, activities, and other fun gatherings. We usually come up with plenty of ideas and start filling our yearly content calendar. This year, however, we were faced with a major challenge like the rest of the world — a global pandemic. Regardless of this obstacle, we asked ourselves: despite the limitations that COVID-19 has imposed on us, how can we reach out to our community and create positive change?
We reflected on the impact of this pandemic on us personally, and we realized that many of us have dealt with isolation, anxiety, or depression. Suddenly the idea fell into place! We decided to reach out to mental health experts and create an online workshop to support mental health awareness. We also decided to call the workshop, “YES, We Care.”
First, we made a volunteer application for the YES Alumni. We received a total of 14 applications, and each applicant became part of the team. Then, we reached out to YES alumna, Lama Alnasser, who is also a clinical psychologist, to be a speaker. Afterwards, we contacted the well known psychiatrist, Dr. Mishaal Alaqeel. Finally, we put our focus on creating social media pages and crafting our design logo for social media outreach.
On September 26, the event took place via Zoom. It was open to the public and we had more than 30 attendees. Dr. Mishaal’s focus was on dealing with anxiety and stress as a young adult, and how to stay healthy. He provided helpful insights on how to deal with social pressure and communication skills. On the other hand, Lama gave tips for parents on how to support their children.
Following the workshop, the attendees gave positive feedback from the workshop, and asked us how to become more involved. It is incredibly rewarding to be part of a team that’s self-motivated and believes in the mission. I am proud that the YES alumni have remained resilient despite the difficulty of going through the pandemic. In some strange way, it made us more connected, despite the distance.
Lama Alnasser (YES 2009-2010, Saudi Arabia, placed with AFS-USA in New Lothrop, MI)