Students who underwent the YES program had the responsibility of carrying out community service during their stay here in the U.S.
From being a good student at school, to giving back to the community — the YES program emphasized that the students should live a well-balanced holistic life, in hopes that this will bring a positive impact on the students’ lives and that they will continue this once they’re back in their home-countries.
Aliyu (Nigeria), who has completed over 170 hours of community service in his host city, Fort Dodge, and who also completed the most amount of hours of community service, said that giving back is a way to get rid the feeling of being too proud.
“Instead of thanking them every time, volunteering is another option,” Aliyu said. “It isn’t super popular at home, and I feel proud to do it!”
The students are required to complete at least two hours of community service every month, but most of them logged in over 100 hours of community service each.
Esther (Nigeria), who was one of the students with more than 100 hours of community service completed, said that the act of giving back is important for a community to succeed. She said that community service is not a big thing back home, and felt that it was most unfortunate.
“The feeling of [being close to the] people, having people give you a big hug, and reading the appreciation from their eyes is the best part of volunteering. I loved volunteering at school and the Iowa Children’s Museum,” Esther said.
Some other students related to Aliyu and Esther’s situation, whereby volunteering and community service is not a popular thing to do back in their countries. One of them, Natalie (Israel), said that community service is “not common as it is [in the U.S.].”
“I enjoyed volunteering at the animal shelter. Volunteering really made me feel better about myself.”— Natalie (Israel)
Volunteering gave the students a chance to meet new people and talk about where they come from.
“I got the chance to meet a lot of people that asked me about my country.”— Ahmad (Jordan)
“I learned a lot from community service, and i really enjoyed it. […] Through it, I got to meet more people, make more friends and talk more about my country.”— Oumaima (Tunisia)
“Community service was not very common where I live but over here I understood how important is it. I actually learned a lot from it and that community service can be fun [and] not necessarily something boring or [something] you don’t like.” — Jermaya (Egypt)
“I’ve always wanted to do community service back in my country but sadly we’re not as familiar with the concept of community service. My favorite place to volunteer is the community theater, since we get to watch the play for free after we’re done ushering. I met a lot of community members and interacted with them.” — Anindita (Indonesia)
Overall, two-thirds of the students logged in over 100 hours of community service each and accumulated over 2920 hours in total!
IRIS hopes that the students will continue contributing to the community no matter where they are in the near future.