Yasmine Genena, Class of 2016: Four Months Later… Where I Stand

I graduated in May from Willamette with a major in International Studies and minor in Chinese Studies. I cherished my four years at Willamette. It was the college experience I had hoped for and each year there presented a new experience and challenges that I hold close to my heart. It was a time when I was continually challenged in the classroom, made lifelong friends, had a range of part-time jobs and leadership roles, studied abroad in China, and finished it off writing and presenting a meaningful thesis. However, towards the end of my time I was ready for a new chapter. I was eager to take what I learned inside and outside the classroom and have a new type of experience outside the bubble.

My senior year, I was one of the Language in Motion (LiM) student Liaisons. During that year, with the help of the coordinator and other student leaders we worked towards transitioning LiM to be student run. I also sustained the program through recruiting and preparing students to give presentations in local high school classrooms. It was a rewarding experience as it connected the Willamette Community to the local community. In my earlier years at Willamette I was a Take A Break: Alternative Spring Break Program Participant and occasionally volunteered during service Saturdays. Through my sorority, Delta Gamma, I spent three years volunteering for Talking Books and Braille Services supporting our philanthropy, service for sight.

After I graduated, I began an AmeriCorps VISTA position, under community engagement for an anti-hunger organization, Partners for Hunger-Free Oregon (PHFO). Ever since my TaB trip, it sparked an interest in the issue of food security, in our country and internationally. That is part of why I chose to do my year of service for PHFO. It is an organization that works towards ending the root causes of hunger through advocacy and program outreach, throughout the state of Oregon. We do not do any direct service around food, such as Oregon Food Bank’s work, though they are a vital partner in our efforts. I have been working there for about two months so I am still wrapping my head around the responsibilities of my specific position and the impact and structure of PHFO work. One important connection that has resonated with me from my LiM work to my current position at PHFO is the value and importance for patience. Change is slow and many times includes a lot of interests.

A few general facts about hunger in Oregon:

  1. It is not an issue of not having enough food, but instead accessibility to financial and other resources.
  2. 15% of Oregon family experience food insecurity.
  3. 1 in 4 children experience hunger.

I aspire to live abroad long-term and have a career in international development. I am using this AmeriCorp year to recalibrate myself and continue to apply for international opportunities, while giving back to the community I grew up in.

Please feel free to contact me at yasmine@oregonhunger.org with any questions.  I would love to connect!


One thought on “Yasmine Genena, Class of 2016: Four Months Later… Where I Stand

  1. Glad to see you are helping improve food security in Oregon Yasmine! Sorry we weren’t able to catch up last week when we saw each other.

    After we talked about your passion, it is great to see that you are busy doing the slow work to make the big change to make Oregon better.

    Hope to see you soon!


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