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A green thumb for Global Youth Service Day

May 30, 2013
YES students and Program Assistants, Brittany Haga and Sara Schoneberg, get ready for a some gardening at Abbie Sawyer Elementary School.

YES students and Program Assistants, Brittany Haga and Sara Schoneberg, get ready for a some gardening at Abbie Sawyer Elementary School.

On Global Youth Service Day (GYSD), Saturday April 27, Iowa Resource for International Service (IRIS) gathered some of their Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study program (YES) students in order to use a more natural means to give back to the community.

Global Youth Service Day is a worldwide event that promotes volunteerism among youth. GYSD was first established in 1988 by the Youth Service America, which is a worldwide leader in youth volunteerism. YES student Saedah Sneneh explained that the GYSD is an annual event that is dedicated to volunteering and helping others as much as possible. “Global Youth Service Day is such a well-known event between us exchange students, but more people need to know about it and join us. Because this is a great opportunity to help out the community, and it makes you feel better as a person,” Sneneh said.

YES students prepare to mulch the garden.

YES students prepare to mulch the garden.

Over the course of a few hours, the students worked on creating a garden that all of the students at Abbie Sawyer Elementary School could enjoy. The garden was in the beginning stages of production, so the students did not have the opportunity to plant. However, there was still plenty of work to be done by the YES students. “Since it wasn’t time for planting, we just helped prepare the planting beds by spreading some mulch,” YES student Nasra Nassor explained.

Through the long day’s work, the YES students began to understand the impact that they were making on their local community and the importance of a worldwide event such as GYSD. “I think Global Youth Service Day is very important, because you get to give back and know that you made a difference in your community,” YES student James Chungu said.

The students seemed to really embrace the original mission of Global Youth Service Day. Because of GYSD, it is almost certain that the students will look forward to future volunteerism opportunities. “I’m glad that I volunteered, because after the day is over you feel like everything was done as it should be. And without you, it might not have gotten done,” Chungu said.

The YES students admire their hard work during Global Youth Service Day.

The YES students admire their hard work during Global Youth Service Day.

However, some YES students didn’t want the day to end. “I wish the day was longer, so we could do more stuff in multiple places,” Sneneh said.

IRIS encourages YES students to participate in these volunteer-oriented activities, such as Global Youth Service

Day, in order to show the importance of giving back to their communities. IRIS hopes that these opportunities to see the benefits of volunteer service will help encourage students to find ways to give of themselves to better their communities back in their own countries.

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