1654089_750969788248083_982555897_nEach year a one-week program is organized by American Councils and the American Civics Center, which is held in Washington D.C.. 100 Youth Exchange and Study (YES) students participate in the workshop to have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of key concepts and values that are a vital part of U.S. society and culture.

During the week, students learn about the U.S. federal government from officials in all departments.  Through seminar discussions, briefings, and meetings on Capitol Hill, they learn about important concepts of civil society. Five IRIS’ YES students made the journey to Washington D.C. to attend the workshop: Aleyna (Turkey), Faris (Jordan), Gideon (Nigeria), Rahaf (West Bank), and Nathan (South Africa).

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Sitting Left to Right: Aleyna, Gideon, Nathan, Faris, and Rahaf

Aleyna and Nathan were 2 out of the 7 Social Media Specialists for the Civic Education Workshop. Their job was to encourage people to use social media throughout the week, as well as using it themselves to be good examples. They shared their experience by uploading pictures to Facebook and tweeting between seminars and study visits. The Social Media Specialists were also responsible for individual final projects that reflected the past week and what the students had learned.

Aleyna created a blog as her final project, where she shared her personal experience from the week. She said, “My blog is my final project which I especially created for the workshop. It was also selected to be published on the YES and American Councils websites and was sent to the State Department as a reference of the workshop.” You can read her blog here: http://civedworkshop14.blogspot.com.

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Standing Left to Right: Gideon, Faris, Representative Stephen King, and Rahaf

Gideon spoke about his most memorable moments from the week, “I enjoyed D.C. because I met new friends, I saw a lot of cool stuff like Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and many others. My favorite part of the week was when we met with staff members at Capitol Hill.”

The YES program was started by Senator Richard Lugar and Senator Ted Kennedy shortly after the attacks of September 11th, 2001 to help build bridges between the United States and countries with significant Muslim populations. The YES students attending the Civic Education Workshop were able to gain a better understanding of U.S. society and culture and will be able to share this with their home countries.

Have you ever considered hosting an exchange student? IRIS will be placing 30 students from over 20 different countries for the 2014-15 school year, and we need people like you to act as volunteer host families. The window to find host families is very short, so please visit https://iris-center.org/YES_Program.html or contact yessupport@iris-center.org for more information!

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