YES Programs



You Can Make a Difference

YES student carrying a box at a storage unit

By Youssef Badawy (YES 20192020, Kuwait, placed by CIEE in Nampa, ID) 

Being a cultural ambassador and studying abroad can teach life lessons such as responsibility, representing one’s home, and trying new things. However, another important lesson I learned is that it doesn't matter how old you are, where you're from, or your situation in life — you can always make a difference.

Youseff presenting in a classroom during IEW

I used to always question myself, which caused self-doubt. I would think to myself, “Who am I to make a difference? What could I provide to change the world?” After being an exchange student, attending Civic Education Week, and volunteering, I learned that I can indeed make a difference! Those experiences taught me that, as a global citizen, I have my rights and my responsibilities, and all I need to make a difference is to have a plan. Then, the work begins! 

The key to volunteering and being an effective community member is to move forward. Being a high school student and a YES student gave me the chance to volunteer. At first, I wasn't that happy with the idea of spending so many hours in service of others. However, once I started, I discovered satisfaction in making people happy and that nothing else could match the rewarding feeling of helping others. I told myself, "I did this. I made a difference and helped my community." 

I wanted everyone to experience this same sense of satisfaction, so the minute I returned to Kuwait, I decided to be an active YES alumnus. Since coming home, I’ve been trying to create greater volunteering opportunities at my school and to step in whenever there is a chance. My YES journey taught me that it does not matter how much of a difference you can make, you should always strive to make a difference.

Youseff posing with volunteers outside in front of a tree

Read more about Youssef’s experience during the YES program here!