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2018 YES End of Stay Student Speakers

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From June 5-7 and June 12-14, 2018, all 2017-18 YES students will participate in end-of-program events in Washington, DC. These events are developed to assist YES students as they transition into YES alumni and return to their home countries.

During the June 5-7 event, nearly 600 YES students will attend a reception at the U.S. Department of State. Students will have the opportunity to hear from Assistant Secretary of State, Marie Royce, as well as a panel of State Department regional experts. For the June 12-14 event, more than 200 YES students will be hosted on Capitol Hill in the historic Kennedy Caucus Room. Former Senator Lugar, co-founder of YES, will be one of the keynote speakers along with Ambassador Jennifer Galt, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Five of the graduating YES participants and one returning YES Abroad student have been selected as student speakers, three for each event. Each student will share about his or her respective exchange experience. Follow #KLYES for minute-by-minute updates and an insider’s take on Twitter via @yesprogramnews, on Instagram via @yes.program, and Facebook: Facebook.com/YouthExchangeAndStudy.  


Juliana Lebanon W1

Juliana Mazraani from Lebanon, hosted by World Link in Bakersfield, CA

Juliana attended Highland High School and enjoyed playing sports for her school on the tennis and swimming teams. She loved her music and choir class in which she was able to develop her talent and participate in the Honor Choir of California. Juliana was also very active in her host community this year, where she developed her love of community service through regularly volunteering with her local Red Cross chapter and with the Red Cross Club at her host high school. YES helped Juliana discover her passion for human rights and her ability to be flexible and resilient. As a Civic Education Week participant, she learned how to be a good leader through service to others. She hopes to contribute meaningfully as an alumna and intends to use her newfound YES leadership skills to be a good influence on her Lebanese community when she returns home.  


Zack Ghana W1

Abdul-Razaak (Zack) Adams from Ghana, hosted by American Councils for International Education in Raleigh, NC

Known as a stand-out YES student since he arrived on program, Abdul-Razaak – who goes by Zack – demonstrated his commitment to sharing his culture while simultaneously learning about American culture with his host family, the Spaldings. He heard the YES call to actively participate in his school and community through chorus, Key club and Future Farmers of America Club, and has become a friend to all he meets. While in North Carolina, Zack applied for and was accepted into a competitive state program called Young Leaders of Cary (in his host community), in which he learned about the processes and importance of local government. This involved taking part in mock trials and meeting with local judges and state congress members. Since he was young, Zack has been motivated to become a heart surgeon and plans to study medicine to become a cardio-surgeon. He wants to help people with health issues and make his mark in the world of health. 


Momna Pakistan W1

Momna Zafar from Pakistan, hosted by Youth for Understanding in Jerome, MI

Momna was the first exchange student at her small Michigan school! Momna tried new experiences not available to her in Pakistan, from cheering in the cold at a football game, playing softball, and starring in two community plays! Like Juliana, Momna knows the joy that comes from giving of yourself and your time to your community, as she was a member of the Community Service Club, the international LEOS club. She also participated in projects for hurricane relief, Red Cross blood drives, food pantry work, nursing home visits, and middle school theatre directing. It’s no wonder that she too completed more than 100 hours of community service during her program year! Momna Zafar embodied the goals of the YES program this year – learning and experiencing American culture while enhancing Americans’ understanding of her home culture and country.  She developed leadership and service skills which will enhance her future and help her to be a better citizen of her community, her country, and the world. 


Syeda Bangladesh W2

Syeda Sadaf from Bangladesh, hosted by PAX in Waynesville, MO

Syeda has proven to be a true ambassador of her country and of the YES program by devoting herself to community service, cultural presentations, and demonstrated leadership. One of Syeda’s biggest discoveries during her time in Missouri has been the joys of community service. As a result, Syeda has logged more than 155 volunteer hours! Can you guess what community service event Syeda reports she learned from the most?  Pulaski County’s two Special Olympic events this year, where she helped orchestrate the games and fun for dozens of Special Olympians.  A friend to all, a tutor to at-risk elementary youth, and a cultural diplomat, Syeda is a great representative of all that is YES! 


Kelton Yesabroad W2

Kelton Miller from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, hosted by American Councils for International Education in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Kelton Miller spent a gap year in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina on the YES Abroad program. He lived with a local family of four, including two brothers his age with whom he bonded by playing FIFA on his brother's Playstation. Kelton attended high school fully immersed in the Bosnian education system and all of his classes were taught in the local language. He was enriched by the school community and grew very close to his classmates, whom he found infinitely welcoming and encouraging. Kelton also became involved in a local running club and participated in races across the region. The crowning athletic achievement of his year was running in the Zagreb half marathon and representing Banja Luka in the process. Kelton is returning to his home of Winston-Salem for the summer, proud of his time in the Balkans. He will join Georgetown University’s freshman class here in Washington, DC this fall.  Kelton credits YES Abroad with inspiring him to study international relations and pursue volunteering in the Peace Corps.


Salma Tunisia W2

Salma Houmane from Tunisia, hosted by CIEE in Tower Lakes, IL

Salma has been an exemplary student, excelling at very challenging courses in school and juggling her many extracurriculars. She has been involved in almost everything Barrington High School offered, from Model United Nations and speech team, to tutoring French with the French Honors Club and serving on the winning Science Olympiad team. She even played powder puff – also called ‘fillie’ – football, and ran, jumped and vaulted for the track and field team. Undoubtedly, Salma is proud to call herself a Barrington Fillie!  It’s that latter activity that will leave Salma with lasting memories of her American host family and her Track and Field family – or ‘tramily’. Salma took her duties as a YES ambassador to heart by saying ‘YES’ to each and every opportunity and by working towards the YES goals of mutual understanding and building cross-cultural bridges. Salma gave more than 30 presentations on Tunisia in her high school alone to various clubs, classes, and sports teams reaching more than 400 Illinoisans.  Salma volunteered over 120 hours this year through her service as a library assistant and with her host family’s church.


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