Sayid Abdullaev of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania serves refugees and new American citizens.
Arriving to the United States as a refugee himself in 2007, Abdullaev encountered many challenges and stereotypes. However, he understood stereotypes occur not because of apathy, but because of the lack of information.
Abdullaev believes in order for peace to be a reality, it is important to get to know not only our neighbors across the street, but also our neighbors across the world. Therefore, he founded the Youth for Peace project. This project seeks to bridge the gap among young refugees and American born youth to cultivate the power of mutual respect towards advancing social justice for all, and increase participation of American youth and refugees in the peace building process through mutual community service projects, cultural exchange, and mentorship activities.
Abdullaev implemented the project at his high school in Arizona by creating a group of American students and newly arrived refugees that met during lunchtime. Together, they brainstormed and identified possible activities, indicators for monitoring, and outcomes. As a result, the group created the Youth Ambassadors program, which involved refugees and foreign students to conduct cultural presentations in the classes, churches, communities, and local organizations, where they talked about their culture, traditions, performed dances and shared local cuisines. In addition, the group preformed community service projects, where students and refugees came together to work and develop mutual community service activities, which helped them to get to know each better, make a difference in their communities, and learn more about peace building activities. Finally, they created a two- way street mentorship program where they worked together to create vision plans.