by Sarah A., IYLEP alumna
For the past 6 years there was no word called volunteering in Iraq. But now, everything is changed. The concept of volunteering became more accepted in our society and kinda familiar words.
In the last summer I did something new. I joined an amazing group of young students in high school. They fund this team in the summer of 2013. They arranged by themselves, they didn’t seek help from older people because they felt afraid from their rejection to the concept of the volunteerism. I found them by chance on Facebook page while they were publishing their Facebook Page & Group …
They named it IYVO: Iraq Young Volunteers for Optimization
In the beginning, they were planning to do a lot of events, but they were still missing the organization. As I studied leadership in the US by participating in IYLEP program in 2011, I did my best to bring their ideas and thoughts to come true and to share it with everyone. We worked for weeks to communicate better and to get to know each other, and after many meetings we voted for one idea: collecting old clothes ,shoes, blankets and even money to give it for a really poor families in my city. After this event, we became like a family, we trusted each other more and more .
The second event was to collect clothes, money, blankets for the destroyed families by the heavy rain in the last few weeks here in Iraq, especially Babylon city. We worked with help of the Red Crescent Organization in Babylon. There were more than 300 houses completely destroyed, and nearly 1000 people are homeless right now (the numbers not so well documented). We did our best to complete this mission in 2 days! We are still making calls to ask if they still need help.
I love this kind of work. It makes me feel great inside. The organization is now growing up more and more. They are the leaders of the future, all respect to them.
by Nasore Moaid, 2013 IYLEPer from Basra
Here we go! I’m going to tell you guys my story about IYLEP and you judge if it’s deserve a try!
I heard about the program, when i was at my school. A Program Coordinator came to my school and told us about the IYLEP! She gave us a lot of information about how to apply for the program.
So when I came back to home, i searched IYLEP on Google, then I got a lot of information. I told my family that i’m going to apply for that program and they encouraged and supported me! I applied for the program with a little hope, because I heard that 2000 students from whole Iraq going to apply, and they needed only 30 students!
Honestly, I thought it was a joke or something, I was like “Oh man.. I’m going to visit the US.. you must be kidding me.”
Then i received an email from World Learning saying that I passed the first step, and I have to meet another Program Coordinator for an interview as a next step. Honestly, I was totally confused when I met her! But I did well (I guess)… and I went back to my home waiting for the results!
After a lots of days I received an Email saying that I have been accepted as finalist! I was like “WOOW, dream becoming true!!!”
So the greatest experience had began. Firstly, we went to Vermont, spending a week in SIT school campus, learning new things, new experiences, meeting new friends, practicing English, improving our skills, discussing community issues, and a lot of amazing things!
Secondly: In a smaller group, we went to Chicago, IL. We spent like 12 days with WorldChicago, and with our Host-Families . Our theme was about Peace Building through Sports and Arts, so we visited a lot of Peace Organizations, Schools, Museums, and a lot of nice places. We learned a lot of new things, also we improved our skills in Chicago, one of the biggest cities in the US, We really had enjoyed it!
Thirdly: All the students finally gathered again in Washington DC, at American University, for like 5 days. We visited the US Department of State, the White house and a lot of nice places. Finally, I finished that program with great skills, good english, many amazing new friends, many different memories, certificates, new thoughts, new view to the future and the world, good backgrounds. And this program just made me a NEW PERSON!
It is the Best Program ever! IYLEP…. It gave me opportunity to see the US | FOR FREE |. Improved my English language | FOR FREE |. Gave me the chance to make a lot of good friends | FOR FREE | Improved my skills | FOR FREE |. Gave me chance to change my self | FOR FREE |. Made me a Leader to my community | FOR FREE |. Gave me tons of funny time and a lots of wonderful thing. I can’t explain how it’s an unbelievable opportunity! If i were you, I would apply now!!
By Ayub Sabir, 2013 IYLEP alumnus from Erbil
IYLEP has played a major role changing our lives after participating in the program. It’s an opportunity for Iraqi young people, who try to build leadership skills, live a whole new experience and make difference in Iraqi society. Also IYLEP stands as a bridge between Iraq and US people to promote the mutual understanding between them. There had always been a lot of to learn from IYLEP.
It was not only an exciting trip to the United Sates but it was such an eye opening for us, mixing with other young people from different backgrounds and perspectives, listening to the other side and sharing stories with each other and discussing the local and global issues. All of these were such stimulus for me to be more confident and diplomatic in my speech and helpful in my actions and to express myself in different ways. I loved the idea of gathering enthusiastic youngsters from different cultures around the world in a place who try making a difference.
Every time when I think about it, it motivates me to do more because I know others like me in the world are doing the same thing to achieve that goal, the goal which had been the dream of many great leaders, people, and nations to make life a better place where to live peacefully.
Throughout IYLEP I learned what my responsibilities were as an individual in my community and it helped me shape my opinions and words alone cannot express what I’ve been through .I have found the skills hidden inside me that I’ve never known they already existed. I have made friends of a lifetime. And the most important thing which I’ve made is the IYLEP tape in my mind, a tape of memories that will never fade away.
Now I can see the positive impact on each and every one of us after participating in IYLEP. If had the chance to do it once again, I’d definitely do it thousand times! But it might be wrong because everyone should try IYLEP experience so my advice for those who want to participate in the program is don’t hesitate to apply for IYLEP and don’t miss the chance seeing the positive impact in you too.
by Hassan Adil Hussein, 2013 IYLEP Participant from Baghdad
IYLEP .. From my perspective I think it had a large impact on me … it changed some things and improved a lot, such as your view about something and someone, attitude towards other, the way of thinking , become more producer, rise a lot of your leadership skill, more proactive.
IYLEP it’s so amazing in challenging way . everyday you wake up to learn things, meet people, watching yourself becoming more confident more social . Founding different team, facing team problem it’s just that IYLEP had a lot then just a learning trip to USA … NO i would say no , I would say it’s a unique trip that you never forgot in your whole life .. it’s something that attached me and touch me so deep inside make me realize a lot of things.
The great thing is that you think it’s over after going let’s say for 30 days and thinking oh that’s it . it’s finished i’m going to return to my normal life just an normal person with his daily normal life , My answer to that , No you get back , you see the whole world with new eyes , eyes of your new personality eyes of someone experienced a lot and, work hard, and eyes of team member, eyes of thinker, eyes of problem solver, eyes of leader , eyes of activist , eyes of Iraqi Person that want to change his country after changing himself.
So my message to you (the person that want to apply) GO FOR IT because believe me you will never forget it your whole entire life. it’s wonderful it’s a mix of joy and learning, it’s something that helps you through a lot of things it’s something that beyond your MIND it’s something bigger than you expected it’s something that you never waste it , give it a try apply have confidence in yourself and BELIEVE , and I hope you get accepted, don’t be afraid, try new things, and IYLEP it’s your first step, AND it’s the window to help your country and community through a lot , so if i had the chance to go again i would go 1000 times cuz every time i’m gonna learn something new , so don’t waste it , it’s your chance and it’s your choice that define which type of person you are.
By Zena Zuhair, 2013 IYLEP Participant from Baghdad
Well before I started this amazing program ,I heard how incredible this journey is but I have to say that for me IYLEP was and always will be an incredible program because in a way or another IYLEP has changed my life for the best , since I came back home from USA people kept asking me what have I done there and what have I learned ? I always said that I have learned a lot from IYLEP and I have discovered abilities and qualities about my self that I never knew beside that I have gained alot of friends which I call now family so in another way IYLEP to me means a life changing experience …
I have to say that in the beginning I felt some kind of pressure since I’m the first person from my school to do it but I was also proud and happy, I was proud to be the first person to represent my school and my community and be able to bring with me so much knowledge and memories which I know that there are others who wants to experience it too but never had the courage to do it and I have to say I’m more than happy to see people getting effected by my stories which I have told them and getting the courage to apply and live the IYLEP experience just like me.
Since school started I have been working with the school’s headmaster, teachers and the students to use everything that I have gained from my trip and apply it to the school to make an obvious effect so we came up with the idea of redoing the school where the students worked togrther to finish it , it wasn’t just people working and that’s it it was also people getting to know each other and spread awareness about so many things .. the project we did was a big hit where we have received a thankful message from the re presenter of the minister thanking us for making this big step and hopefully we can make other schools do it to ..and all of this goes thanks to IYLEP for changing my life and making me believe that I can make a change and hopefully I will be able to inspire more people to do the same thing .
by Ahmed Alaa, 2013 IYLEP Participant from Baghdad
IYLEP has made a huge impact on me. A very positive one that is. It was such an amazing eye opening experience. I learned so much on the cultural, educational, religious and personal aspects.
I highly encourage Iraqi students to apply to IYLEP. No words can describe the great time I’ve spent, the fun I’ve had, the experience I gained, the beautiful places I’ve seen and been to and the amazing and inspirational people I’ve met along the way. It’s truly a once in a lifetime experience. I’d do it all over again if I could.
I would love to apply to IYLEP re-live the whole experience once again but it’s your turn now. Don’t be intimidated by the registration and the whole applying thing. It’s very easy and it’s so worth it. Don’t think about the obstacles that you might face in any part whether it was applying or actually going cause they’re just in your head and you can overcome all of them with the help of the amazing people who are working on this program.
Go apply now!