IYLEP Blog Contest: Developing our communities and making change

Safwa Mohammed poses in front of Manhattan during the IYLEP closing conference in New York City.



Alumni of the 2013 Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program reconnected this winter in Erbil. Alums from both the High School and Undergraduate programs gathered to reflect on their experiences and participate in workshops and panel discussions that built upon the skills students developed last summer in the U.S. Meridian invited IYLEP alumni to submit a blog post describing their personal experience and growth with the program. We selected the winning entries to post on The LEAD.

It’s been almost a year I guess since we’ve all applied to IYLEP. Looking back at how we used to live—oh, gosh! Who knew our lives would change this much?

I believe no words could describe the experience we’ve had or the skills we’ve learned. This journey ignited the spark in our souls to make a change in our community. Now we know no matter how tiny the effort we put in, it still counts. Our voices still matter and one day they will impact this world.

We’ve learned to work as a team, despite our different backgrounds, religions, regions, cultures, and even languages. We managed to get out of our comfort zones and cope with all different kinds of problems.

We made friends with people from the other side of the globe. We showed the world that no matter how different we are or where are we from, we are capable of living in peace and building a loving environment, that makes anyone feel welcomed. We overcame the misunderstanding and the stereotypes with an open mind.

I think now we realize how important the youth are and how we can play a major role in the society!

We are the core of our communities, therefore we must be involved in the process of developing communities and making change. Through IYLEP, we became a better version of ourselves! Now we see the world from a total different point of view!