This was a blog post I wrote for the Algerian Youth Leadership Program. This program consisted of 20 Algerian students and 10 Nevada high school students who came together to make a change in their community:
Learning about different cultures and making new friends has been a common theme throughout the course of this week. Having a chance to sit down and just talk with an Algerian student is such a rewarding experience. Whether you are from the state of Nevada or the country of Algeria, as young adults, we have so many things in common. Just from my personal experiences, these past three days I have learned so many wonderful things about the country of Algeria and I have realized that our backgrounds do not matter.
Today, the students went to visit their community organizations for a second time. Teams Blue and Orange were assigned to the organization, The Children’s Cabinet. The Children’s Cabinet focuses on helping Nevada’s youth stay safe and keeping families together. With all differences and backgrounds put aside, both Algerian and Nevada students were able to participate with kids in the Children’s Cabinet program.
After the Algerians had a chance to enjoy peanut butter Rice Krispy Treats for the very first time. I was concerned because of how quiet it became, but as I looked around everyone had a smirk of indulgence on their face. The afternoon continued with a group debate. The Algerian students, eager to participate, were the most vocal. They learned this activity was specifically designed for the Children’s Cabinet kids to let out their concerns and opinions about any situation.
Once the AYLP students had a chance to voice their opinions, they talked about the importance of a discussion and how everyone is entitled to their own opinions. The take away from this activity was that no matter what our differences are, we all have opinions and they all matter.
The final activity at the Children’s Cabinet was the Algerian students’ favorite. The t-shirt print shop, called Cabinet Ink, allowed all of the students to make their own shirts, creating a memory that will last forever. Each student was prompted to pick out a shirt or sweatshirt, ranging in different colors and styles. Once the machines were ready to go, each student eagerly formed a line to learn the process of how an image or logo is pressed onto a shirt. While waiting for everyone to finish, I had a chance to talk and spend time with a few students. As the radio was playing softly in the background, the Algerians suddenly recognized the artist, Taylor Swift, and we all started dancing shamelessly. This struck up a conversation about our favorite singers, and surprisingly there were a lot of common favorites. “I really like Johnny Cash,” one student said. I was shocked that one of America’s classics was also an Algerian favorite.
Being a part of this amazing program has allowed me to make a difference in these students’ lives and build new friendships. The most rewarding experience has been learning, and truly witnessing that it does not matter where you are from. We all have similarities. At the very beginning of the program, it was interesting to see the differences between our countries and cultures, where as now, just three days in, it is all about our similarities.