Qisasna Program: From Students to Podcasters in Yemen

Emtinan and Abdullah are two hearing-impaired students who participated in the Qisasna program, a transformative virtual exchange between Yemeni and American university students to develop podcasts on shared challenges.

Emtinan and Abdullah were nominated by Amideast’s new Qisasna partner, the Deaf Care and Rehabilitation Society–Aden, and Qisasna was their first-ever international exchange experience. It proved to be a life-changing one.

Recently, Emtinan and Abdullah had the chance to highlight their achievements in contributing to Qisasna podcast episodes and their overall impressions and experiences participating in the Qisasna program. They were invited as guests on the "Good Morning Aden" show at AIC channel, a local TV station. During the show, they impressed the audience with their eloquence and confidence, which they attributed to their participation in the Qisasna program. Both Emtinan and Abdullah also shared a video of their behind-the-scenes work in producing their and Qisasna’s first sign language podcasts. Let’s learn a bit more about Emtinan and Abdullah.


Being confident is essential to overcoming the obstacles of living in the hearing world."

Emtinan, 21 years old, is a multimedia student at the University of Science and Technology in Aden. She found that participating in the Qisasna program helped her develop her self-confidence and communication skills. Emtinan was able to express her thoughts and opinions freely in Yemeni sign language, which she used to communicate with her American peers and mentors. “[The Amideast Qisasna program] provided a safe and supportive environment that encouraged me to share my ideas confidently. We learned from it, and it really helped us to be more confident.” She emphasizes that “Being confident is essential to overcoming the obstacles of living in the hearing word.” Emtinan noted that speaking up for herself will help reach her goals to teach in the future, and the experience has inspired her to learn American Sign Language, with the aim of enhancing her communication skills with other American students in the future.


Abdullah, a fourth-year pharmacy student at the University of Science and Technology in Aden, has always had a dream of expanding his horizons and learning from different cultures. He found the perfect opportunity to do so when he joined the Qisasna program. Abdullah described his work on a Qisasna sign language podcast, which he co-created with his American counterparts, as impactful. The podcast episode was designed to raise awareness and appreciation for the deaf community, as well as to showcase the similarities and differences between Yemeni and American Sign Languages. Abdullah says: “I never thought that I would be able to communicate with American university students, let alone produce a Sign Language podcast engaging with American peers!” He adds: “[Qisasna] was a challenging but rewarding experience that taught me a lot about myself and others.”

I never thought that I would be able to communicate with American university students, let alone produce a Sign Language podcast engaging with American peers!"

Through his involvement in Qisasna, Abdullah not only gained valuable knowledge and skills but also developed a deeper sense of empathy and curiosity for other cultures. “I learned a lot from this experience, and I exchanged a lot of thoughts with my podcast teammates.” Abdullah also was grateful to Qisasna facilitators and program administrators: “Qisasna opened my eyes to new possibilities and opportunities. For example, this experience underscored the importance of my role as an equal member in society, highlighting the need for my voice and ideas to be heard with the same level of consideration and respect as any other member of society. I am very thankful for this chance to grow and learn.”

Emtinan’s and Abdullah's joining Qisasna as hearing-impaired students and contributing to the program’s first sign language podcasts are one of many examples of how Qisasna students are empowered to achieve their potential, explore new opportunities such as study abroad, and make a positive difference in their communities. Their success reflects the power of education and collaboration in creating a better world for all.

Qisasna (“Our Stories”) is supported by the Stevens Initiative, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. government and administered by the Aspen Institute. Through Qisasna, Amideast and its partners—ICRD and DCS Aden—seek to reach Yemeni youth and make education and exchange accessible to them. Qisasna aims to empower Yemeni students by providing them with opportunities to interact with their counterparts in the United States and learn from each other's experiences and cultures. The program also fosters mutual understanding and respect between the two countries and communities. We are proud of Emtinan and Abdullah and of all our Qisasna alumni in Yemen and the U.S., as well as our partners ICRD and DCS, for their enthusiasm and commitment to promoting cross-cultural dialogue.

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