Every day YES alumni work together to implement sustainable projects impacting their communities, however, there are so many innovative ways YES alumni can also support their peers all over the globe. During the Cross Country Collaboration webinar, participants learned how to get involved with and support the projects of other alumni in various YES countries. The panel of speakers includes Jennifer Russell, Director of Education at iEARN-USA, Héla Nafti, TEARN Country Coordinator, and Shebnem Niazi,YES 2013-2014 and YES Alumni Coordinator of Bulgaria.
Meet the Panel:
Jennifer Russell, Director of Education at iEARN-USA
As Director of Education, Jennifer provides expertise, leadership, and coordination in the development and promotion of iEARN-USA's virtual exchange program strategies, tools, and network. In this role, she designs projects, resources, trainings, and online courses for teachers and youth to increase their technology and cross-cultural collaboration skills. Prior to joining iEARN-USA, Jennifer was a Peace Corps volunteer in Albania and China where she was a teacher trainer and taught English as a foreign language at the primary and secondary level.
Héla Nafti, TEARN Country Coordinator
Héla Nafti is the Country Coordinator for TEARN, iEARN Tunisia, and is also the Senior Inspector for English Language Teaching in Tunis, Tunisia. She trains teachers and works for the development and implementation of the educational reform in Tunisia. She has been the iEARN Country Coordinator in Tunisia since 2004 and formally launched TEARN as an association in 2011. She has trained many teachers across the country in online project-based learning and leads citizenship activities for teachers and youth, focusing on improving understanding between communities and empowering youth with 21st Century skills to help them build a better world.
Shebnem Niazi, YES 2013-2014 and YES Alumni Coordinator of Bulgaria
After returning from her YES exchange year in the U.S., Shebnem's passion to understand the multifaceted interconnectedness among nation-states, international institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and ethnic, cultural, and religious groups never faded away. Shebnem joined the members of the YES Alumni Association in Bulgaria and participated in and implemented several projects including the renovation of public spaces, social awareness campaigns, and donation drives. Shebnem decided to broaden her worldview and the scope of her volunteering by teaching English at the Sri Udom orphanage in rural Thailand. Being a part of a group of people who work together cooperatively, communicating and coordinating openly to achieve a shared goal, made Shebnem realize the importance of cross-country collaboration. As Alumni Coordinator, inspired by the Interfaith Harmony Workshop (IHW), Shebi initiated the Letters of Hope for Refugees project. The campaign's goal was to provide messages of support and solidarity from around the world to asylum seekers in Bulgaria. The project ended up having over 1,200 participants from 5 continents and 18 countries. Currently Shebnem is in her gap year. Starting in the fall, she will be attending the New York University in Abu Dhabi where she plans to pursue a degree in Social Research and Public Policy.