The Light - An Alumni Publication Winter 2014/2015 - Page 9

the world together — to live together — we learn to appreciate diversity and tolerate ourselves and understand our differences.” “Exchange programs bring different countries of the world together – to live together – we learn to appreciate diversity and tolerate ourselves and understand our differences.” Returning home, Waziri was pleasantly surprised. “My family was very impressed. They thought I would have forgotten about my culture, would not practice Islam and all of that. She added, “I learned a lot of positive things. I became a change maker…but I still pray five times daily as a Muslim. I still wear my hijab as expected, and I still respect my culture and values.” She was also pleased to hear from family members who initially didn’t want her to go. “My auntie, before I go, she said ‘no, you cannot go on this’, and now she is like, ‘I myself can send my kids if this is how the exchange program is…it doesn’t change someone’s culture or religion.’” Waziri to a number of volunteer opportunities. She said, “even though they expect me to do this, I am learning something from it, and if America can pay for me to come here and spend one year, why not do this for America?” When she returned home, she said to herself “this is a very great part of American culture. If I can complete more than 200 hours of community service to America, why not do it in my own country too, and bring change to my own country?” Seeing a need for dialogue and understanding between Muslims and Christians, Waziri applied for a YES grant to address politically- and religiouslymotivated violence in the afflicted region. Partnering with a major soccer club, Waziri and her peers created a project called Football for Peace. Read more about this project here. Stories compiled by John Favazzo from an interview with Waziri when she visited the YFU National Office in 2014. THE CHANGE MAKER Youth exchange opens eyes and changes hearts. Waziri described exchange as “a life-changing experience that I think every youth that has a dream of making changes should participate. You will realize who you are, what you want to be, and what you can do as an individual.” The concept of community service is not widely embraced around the world. In the case of Waziri, she didn’t know what to expect. “I honestly didn’t do any community service back home because it wasn’t popular in my country.” YFU, as a requirement of the YES program, introduced YFU • The Light | 9