This year’s World Link FLEX and YES students completed over 90 Global Youth Service Day Projects, collecting over $11,500 in donations for many different charitable causes. There were projects of all varieties – from food drives and clothing drives to teaching peers life saving techniques like CPR. There were also several creative and unique projects our World Link National Staff had not seen done before. One example was, Alina Harbovska (Ukraine/TX) who raised money for the local hospital by placing a decorated toilet in yards across her community! Our National Staff was impressed with the overall efforts made by the students this year.
World Link National Staff sat down, reviewed each project report and photos, and selected the top ten based on each project’s scope, outcome, and community involvement.
World Link students not only showed their passion and creativity, but they made a difference in the lives of those who need it during Global Youth Service Day 2018. See many World Link student’s projects in this year’s #GYSD2018 Highlight video.
World Link’s Top Ten Global Youth Service Day Projects:
Behruz rallied his host community together and helped a disadvantaged group of children living in the mountains of his native country of Tajikistan. By organizing a Tajik dinner for his host community, holding bake sales, dancing a Tajik dance before theater productions, and creating an online fundraiser and awareness campaign, Behruz raised $1500! This was to purchase much needed sports equipment, uniforms, school supplies, and even a clean water source to multiple schools in Tajikistan. Thanks to the help of Behruz’s natural family and the community, the students in the mountains are already enjoying the benefits of Behruz’s project!
Bektemir wanted to provide the opportunity for Kyrgyz students with disabilities to learn English, an opportunity he did not have. Before he could apply for the FLEX Program, Bektemir had to teach himself English as his home boarding school for the blind was unable to provide adequate English books and learning materials.
Using a basic curriculum he developed, he recruited 24 American peers to connect daily via “What’s App” with low-vision students in his home boarding school for a one-on-one English conversation and learning. During the project, he arranged a tour of the the Colorado Springs School for the Blind and saw the amazing technology given to blind and low-vision students in America to help them succeed in learning. After the tour, he added a motivational aspect to his project which included videos to show the types of opportunities blind students can have if given the proper equipment to succeed. He asked American blind students to type inspirational letters in braille which will be given to blind students in Kyrgyzstan who were unable to participate in the “What’s App” portion of his project.
The duel benefit of this project was Bektemir’s ability to connect with the American blind students and share his culture through presenting at their school. Finally, Bektemir also collected $251 which he will use to buy better English learning materials for his boarding school back at home.
During her exchange year, Hiba was introduced to the concept of a ‘tied blanket’. She loved the simplicity of the idea and knew she wanted to do something with it for her GYSD project. Hiba thought about who could benefit from a tied blanket and she chose to focus her project on children in the pediatric wing of Mercy Hospital. By rounding up many of her peers and getting donations from the local community, Hiba made 86 tied blankets, an equivalent to over $1000 in donations for the children. Now, because of Hiba, these children will have their very own blanket to snuggle up with, and hopefully feel a little more comfortable as they are getting the care they need.
Oleh’s GYSD project was inspired by a volunteering opportunity to work with disabled children in a special basketball clinic earlier in his exchange year. For his project, he contacted the regional coordinator of the Special Olympics, told them how he wanted to coordinate a similar effort, and the project only grew from there. Oleh used his connections with his school’s basketball team and recruited team members and the Varsity coach to help run different drills and scrimmages with the special needs team for their last practice of the year. After a long, but fun and educational practice, the group sat down for a pot luck with food provided by the local community. Not only did Oleh’s project help boost the skills of these special needs players, he also made lasting connections between them and the community.
Much of Madina’s exchange year was dedicated to helping the non-profit “Second Star to the Right”, an emotional and financial support organization for families with children battling cancer. It was only natural for her GYSD project to be focused on helping this organization. Throughout Madina’s project, she raised awareness of this organization to over 700 of her peers. Some of her peers made gold ribbons, while others bought them. Over 100 of her peers made Valentine’s Day cards for the little ‘warriors’. The capstone of her project was organizing what will now be an annual ‘meet and greet’ dance for families who are supported through this organization.
Yash wanted to bring easy access to knowledge to small communities around his host community by building a “Little Free Library” in towns and villages that do not have a public library. Through visiting local banks, community clubs, the chamber of commerce, and the local church, Yash was able to initially raise enough money to build 2 “Little Free Libraries”. Once the ground had thawed out, Yash built his first Little Library which attracted the attention of the local newspaper. After this highlight, requests for more “Little Libraries” started flooding in, so Yash reached out to the wood shop class at his high school to help him build. In total, Yash was able to build 6 “Little Free Libraries” across the host county, each one being built by the community for the betterment of the community itself.
Thanks to Grlica, students with special needs who are unable to afford a prom dress will be able to look beautiful during their special prom organized by the local Rotary club next year. Grlica wanted to connect her school with people in her community, and through brainstorming with her host dad, she decided to organize a basketball game between her host high school and the local Fire and Police Departments. The community was invited to attend this event by either donating one prom dress per family or paying $10 for an individual ticket. By the end of her event, Grlica collected 35 prom dresses and raised $345! Grlica said her community was amazed that an international student would show so much care for their community, but she replied it was simply done as a way to give back to the community that welcomed her so warmly this exchange year.
One of Meerimai’s first fundraising projects during her exchange was to benefit the Youth and Service Shelter, an organization dedicated to helping homeless youth in Iowa. Though learning more about this organization and realizing her passion of equal access to education, Meerimai’s GYSD project was born. Meerimai set out school supply donation boxes across her community: in the middle school, the public library, and even in the local bowling alley. She also raised awareness about her drive through social media. Her goal of her project was to collect 3,000 different supplies; a hefty goal in and of itself, but by the end of her collection drive; Meerimai blew that goal out of the water by collecting over 10,000 different items, valuing over $12,000! Meerimai stuffed 50 backpacks with school supplies and still had many more donations left over!
While searching for a topic that stood out to both Olga and Carmen, this dynamic duo came across low income single mothers and substance abuse. Through further research, they learned of a single-mother substance abuse treatment center located in a house donated by a local family. While some rooms in the house have been renovated, there was still work to be done. Carmen and Olga made it their mission to turn a bleak room into a comfortable place to call home for a mother overcoming substance abuse and her children. They organized and invited their whole neighbor to two different games nights with a $10 entrance fee. These game nights, plus presenting their cause to their peers and on social media; they were able to raise over $2000. This money was put to good use and that bleak room is now a place of peace and serenity for a single mother and her children.
A survey about stress is what inspired Zartaj to create her GYSD project. When asked, over 90% of the students in her class said ‘stress’ or ‘depression’ was to them a major problem of the world. Zartaj was taken aback by this answer and decided she wanted to make people smile and help elevate at least some of their stress. Through giving henna tattoos at the local McDonald’s, Girl Scouts, and at the American Legion for a small donation fee, Zartaj was able to make 100 ‘Goody baskets’ to children in needy families to help them celebrate Easter. The children were elated to receive their baskets and their smile has encouraged Zartaj to take some left over donations and do this project again as alumna in Pakistan.
World Link would like to say thank you to all 2017-2018 students who completed a project for #GYSD2018. Whether your project was big or small, it has changed the world.