Alumni Update: Kiana Graves (Saudi Young Leaders Exchange Program – U.S. Cultural Ambassador)
I am a Youth in Development Peace Corps volunteer and I live in a small city in the south of Morocco. My experience in the Peace Corps has been rewarding and I definitely want to thank Legacy International for helping to get me here. During SYLEP 2016, I learned so much about the culture of Saudi Arabia, even a little Arabic, and about how to strengthen leadership skills and create change in a community. I also worked with someone who had volunteered in Peace Corps Morocco previously, Mecca Abney. Because of this experience, when I was invited to serve in Morocco, I was eager and excited!
I have been in Morocco for 1 year and 5 months, and it has gone by so quickly! I have learned a few languages—Darija, French, and Tachelhit (a traditional, Amazigh language). I have tried to participate in as many cultural celebrations and holidays possible, including weddings that have lasted days! And of course, I have made long-lasting friendships.
I work in my local youth center teaching English and life skills and I helped to create a debate team and a book club. Currently, I am preparing to have a leadership workshop. 60 top English-learning students, in high schools from several towns around my site, will come for a week to learn about how to be a leader in their communities. They will learn life skills such as problem-solving and self-confidence and they will hear from community leaders in my town. I have invited a few people that have participated in programs such as Fulbright and the “Say Yes” program to come and speak about their experiences, in order to show the students that there are programs that can gain them experience and knowledge to become leaders in Morocco. Finally, I invited my regional manager to speak about the mission of Peace Corps and to speak about the several opportunities that Moroccans have within Peace Corps Morocco. I am using a lot of what I have learned from SYLEP to help strengthen the leadership skills of the students and show how they can engage their communities. I am very excited for what is to come in these next few months and I am so thankful for what I learned as a Cultural Ambassador in the SYLEP program!