This summer 25 high school students from Yemen joined the Global Youth Village (GYV) international summer camp. They came to the US in the summer of 2014 with the Youth Exchange and Study (YES), and cannot return to their war-torn country. The Yemen airports are closed, the country is under siege, and they often do not know how their family are, from day to day. Their situation is in limbo as the U.S. Department of State tries to finalize plans for student’s fall semester.
At GYV, the summer camp program helps create a living, working model of the Global Community, where young people establish deep friendships, gain practical skills, and discover how to make a difference both locally and globally. With leadership and dialogue training these youth will be better prepared to deal with the situation in their country, when and if they return.
Kody Leibowitz of the local TV station WSET Channel 13 video interviewed two of the students, Samer and Ali. Both are 18-year-olds and describe with relief, their summer camp experience as “Great!”
“I got experience to sing. I never sang before. But here they made me sing. It was a really cool experience,” said Samer.
Ali who studied in San Francisco this past year, loves to dance. Before camp, he never took a class. “I danced in front of all the students and it was just awesome,” said Ali.
Upon reflection, Ali shares his concern for the future. “The uncertainty makes me worried with what’s going on. But I have no choice. It’s hard,” said Ali. What makes it more difficult, Ali says, is his family’s situation back home. “After a week now, I don’t know if they’re alive or not. It’s a little bit hard,” said Ali.
Samer says his family fled their home in April. “In these days, they are running out of food,” said Samer. “[They are] running out of water.” As the war in Yemen intensifies, so does the legal tug of war for these students. “My country is in a war and it’s dangerous for me to go back,” said Ali. “I don’t know if I’m going to be alive or not.”
Samer says after heading back to New Mexico for his senior year, he wants to study business or sports medicine. Ali finished high school and is enrolled in community college in Washington State, where he is interested in geology and psychology.
Since 1979 Legacy has hosted GYV on its 80 acre campus, fostering dialogue, friendship, and cultural awareness between youth from over 107 countries around the world. The Global Youth Village offers teen summer programs that focus on intercultural communication and community action.
To watch the full interviews from both Samer and Ali go to : “Their Story: Yemeni Students Speak on Situation Civil War at Home” click on the bottom to scroll to each interview video.