My experience at GYV is one I will always cherish. At first, I was nervous to travel half way around the world on my own. On top of the usual fear of travelling to a new place, I was scared to leave my family in Libya, because of the unrest across the country.  But somehow I knew that attending GYV would help me and my country find peace – even just a little bit.  So I left Libya for a summer I’ll never forget.

PicMonkey Collage
After arriving in the US and getting to know the other GYV participants, I began to feel right at home. As my earlier fears fell away, I began to see what a special place GYV was. All of us came from different backgrounds – Cuban, Polish, Chinese,Native American, Muslim, Christian, atheist, tall, short, athletes, musicians – you name it! I thought these differences would make it hard to relate to one another, but I found that our differences actually brought us closer together.

Through my workshop, I became more culturally aware, and I began to reflect on how I can make the world a better place.  At GYV, I realized that the future is in the hands of teens like me, who want to make a change. Although having no internet access or cell phones seemed like a burden at first, it was a blessing. I really don’t think we would’ve interacted as much if we had access to them-so kudos to the staff for that!

During the time I was at GYV, there was a lot of trouble in my country. Knowing people at home were going through a difficult time made me sad and scare.  I am beyond thankful for the supportive and caring friends I met at GYV.  Whether giving a heartfelt hugs or a listening ear, my friends knew exactly how to help when I was worried about home.  Thanks to social media, I still keep in touch with my GYV friends – some of us still talk everyday!
I am so grateful for my GYV experience.  It was the summer of a lifetime, and one of the best choices I’ve ever made.

– Saja El Hafi, GYV ’14


What to experience GYV like Saja and so many other teens from around the world?  Register today