During the month-long YSEL camp, students not only improve their skills and understanding of the English language through daily classes, they also develop a strong sense of unified national identity.
A total of 40 secondary-school-aged boys and girls from different provinces will participate in each of these YSEL Camps. They will take part in English classroom work and a host of activities in a live-in, boarding-school environment. While English language acquisition will be the primary objective of this program, seeding elements of civic education with an emphasis on creating a strong sense of national identity, youth solidarity, and individual responsibility will also be an integral part of the program. Students will develop important life skills such as teamwork, leadership, and the strong belief that they are agents of change, learning through group dynamics, community service, and volunteerism.
American Councils is confident that based on the success of similar programs in the past, these camps will increase the language skills of student participants, which in turn will enhance the pool of future exchange students, and provide a broader channel for embassy outreach. Afghan students, if their advancement is significant, will be able to build upon their working knowledge of English to further their abilities to be education-ready for exchange and scholarship opportunities. They will also return with a greater appreciation for the democratic values, ethnic diversity and technological and educational achievements of their most important neighbor, India.
The program focuses on both academic and non-academic learning. The academic program will be run like a typical American high school, with students attending a variety of classes taught by professional teachers. The focus will be on improving participants’ English language skills, and reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Students will learn basic essay writing skills in Academic Writing class; improve grammar in Home Room with the Shining Star textbook series and other resources; learn reading strategies in Reading class using a variety of books and texts; and gain experience in making Public Speaking presentations. Other classes may include mathematics, hands-on science, computer, government, and history. Each student will also be required to take part in a group project, and students will work on a newsletter and a blog, thus honing their writing skills on a daily basis.
After a regular day of classes, students will take part in a club of their choosing. Suggested clubs will be sports (soccer, cricket, and volleyball), art, swimming, and debate Students will change clubs every week of the camp, and will be required to take at least one sport.
Through a variety of activities and field trips to different religious and ethnically diverse sites, participants will gain first-hand knowledge of how to work as individuals and together as a group; learn and use conflict resolution skills; discover the importance of personal responsibility; and how to make change in a community. In addition, setting short- and long-terms goals will be an expected outcome of this program.
Each weekend at camp will have a theme, and activities will be focused on the theme of the weekend. Students will visit various places of worship to expose them to different beliefs; learn about the importance of preserving the environment; engage in community service projects; and visit a science museum for a day of learning and science projects.
The Youth Solidarity and English Language Camp offers an invaluable opportunity not only for its participants, but also for the alumni of the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program. American Councils will employ primarily alumni of the YES and pervious YSEL Programs as camp counselors. This not only engages the returning alumni in an invaluable endeavor, but also provides incentive for those returning to Afghanistan with holiday work, and a way to stay involved in the community as leaders, mentors, and role models.
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