YES program exchange student Haytham, from Gaza and living in Haines, was awarded the 2013 International Education Week winner from Ayusa (Academic Year in the USA) International, a nonprofit based out of San Francisco. Haytham was judged based on an essay submitted in the contest about his efforts reaching out to the Haines community. He gave presentations at his school and the local library, where 70 residents attended. He talked about Palestine’s history, holy places, poets, presidents, traditions and the political state with Israel.
According to a press release from Ayusa, what impressed the judges most was his maturity in speaking about his country and global issues.
The release quoted a teacher of Haytham’s as saying, “It really made the students in my class think seriously about global issues they had never learned about. The students said they learned more in his presentation than they had all year. It had that much impact.”
Haytham also constructed an origami paper craft of a peacock, a symbol of peace in Palestine, which took two months and thousands of pieces of paper to make as a gift for his school.