Hosted in North Carolina, Siti Nur Hannany wrote two lovely blogs about her encounters that really captured the spirit about the YES Program.

I’m Siti Nur Hannany from YES16 batch, currently hosted in North Carolina.

Few days ago, I volunteered myself at the Boys and Girls Club, seeing it as an opportunity to meet different people. Boys and Girls Club of America is a national organisation that offers after-school program for young people. I helped the kids with their homework, played foosball and tag and also danced with them.

I wasn’t fond being with little children but one day it all changed. The thought of kids being all of our future is what drives me to deliver every drop of effort to teach them on being young leaders that will one day bring peace to the world.

It all started one day when a kid asked me, “Which church did you go to around here?” As usual, I answered that I’m a Muslim and I don’t go to a church to pray but rather to visit. Just then, her jaw dropped and she backed away. That cheeky smile of her turned into a frown.  I started to feel sad because she was the one who hug me tightly and whispered to my ears that I was her best friend everyday.

“Does that mean you’re a terrorist?” she said. In fear of losing a best friend, I told her that Muslims are not terrorist. Those acts of violence simply don’t belong to any religion, be it my religion Islam or your religion Christianity. She held my hand and asked to explain more about Islam, and to explain the meaning of Allahuackbar, the ‘fearful’ phrase that many terrorists used before they began their dreadful, evil acts.

The girl was only 12 years old, and the kids surrounding me were also around the same age. I showed them a phrase in the Al-Quran on my phone, even read it aloud to them and explained that the very phrase deeply highlighted that if we kill even one person, it is as if we kill the entire humanity. This made the kids in awe, and asked me to tell more stories, both about Islam and Malaysia. Don’t be surprise if these kids come up to you and sing Rasa Sayang.

Before I went home, a girl came up to me and gave me a gift, saying that she thinks all Malaysians have a big, nice heart. I asked her why, she simply said that because I have one.

Just before I left, my best friend came up to me and hug me. She apologised for being offensive and she gave me a heart as well. Written on the heart was “I love Muslims”, she hugged me before I could even read it. She wished that these terrorists would stop killing people and make the world “a place that you and I can live peacefully,”

With all my heart, it’s what I wished for too. Kids hold the key to a door of a better future, and it is our job to lead them to that door.

Written by,
Siti Nur Hannany