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YES Abroad Alumni Spotlight: Peter Atwill

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By Peter Atwill, YES Abroad 2012-2013, Oman

What are some of your biggest accomplishments since becoming an alum of the YES Abroad program?

Some big accomplishments include getting the Puget Sound Alumni Scholarship to complete an undergraduate degree in International Political Economics. Beyond that my work with human rights centers in Jordan, with the Omani Embassy, and with refugee resettlement. Other accomplishments include being NARCAN certified, tending to public gardens, and participating in local mutual aid endeavors.

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What are some of your favorite memories from the YES Abroad program?

Some of my favorite memories from my time in Oman include: dune bashing in the desert with host brothers, visiting Dubai, camping in the Omani wilderness, trying camel meat, learning about Omani history and so much more that is lost to the sands of time.

What are some of the ways you’ve stayed connected to fellow alumni since your exchange experience? What about your host family or friends that you met abroad?

I've stayed in touch with my fellow alumni through social media and in-person. D.C. has a high center of gravity for YES alum and I've caught up with at least half our group post-YES abroad. One of them, Dylan, I consider to be one of my closest friends. Host family wise, I'll exchange pleasantries on WhatsApp around Eid or other festive periods.

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How did the YES Abroad program impact you professionally? What about personally?

The impact professionally and personally was of course big. Professionally, the experience allowed me to return to the Middle East and even now I occasionally get to utilize my Arabic while working at the largest regional refugee resettlement agency in America. Personally it opened my eyes to people, culture, and experiences that shaped who I am for the better. Experiencing the highs and lows of being away from your comfort zone at a young age definitely helped prepare me for adulthood under capitalism.

What is one piece of advice you would give to current or future YES Abroad program participants? 

Don't be too hard on yourself if you don't think you're doing enough or getting the experience you expected. Just be kind and say yes to opportunities that find you.

In 10, 20, or even 30 years, what do you hope the legacy of the YES Abroad program will be?

I hope that its legacy shows that people all over the world care and love one another. In spite of the all the negative that countries inflict on one another, hopefully YES Abroad can show that the soft seemingly unimportant moments of living side by side can offer a glimmer of hope.