Monday, June 25, 2012

Merhaba Everyone!

Back in January, I filled out the online application for the YES Abroad Program, by writing essays and filling out information about my grades, extracurriculars, etc. I'd heard about the program from a friend who spent a year in Thailand, and after months of daydreaming, I thought I should just go for it.

In February, I found out that I was one of 90 semi-finalists who were flown to Denver, CO for a weekend in March of individual interviews and group evaluations. It was incredible to meet so many friendly and outgoing high-schoolers from across the country, and while we were encouraged to make friends and not be competitive, it seemed there wasn't a person there who wouldn't be fit to spend a year abroad.

On April 13th, I found out that I was one of 55 finalists from the entire country that would be awarded a full scholarship to spend the next academic year abroad.

So what is the YES Abroad program anyway?
The Kennedy-Lugar YES Abroad program is the American sending portion of the Kennedy-Lugar YES program. YES stands for Youth Exchange and Study, a scholarship program that was founded in 2002 to bring students from countries with significant Muslim populations to live with host families in the United States to promote intercultural learning and understanding. Right now, students can spend a fully paid for academic year in the United States from the following countries:

Afghanistan, Albania, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Egypt, Gaza, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Israel (Arab Communities), Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Malaysia, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, West Bank, and Yemen.

In 2007, the YES program expanded to not only receiving students, but sending American students to countries with significant Muslim populations. Each year, 5 students are selected to be sent to each Bosnia-Herzegovina, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Mali, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Thailand, and Turkey (this year however, Mali and Egypt were cut out due to political unrest, and students were distributed amongst the other countries; 55 scholarships were still awarded).
You can check out their website here.