By Maham Fatima, YES 2016-2017, Pakistan, hosted by AFS in Albuquerque, NM
On my first day of high school in the United States, my counselor encouraged me to sign up for electives in addition to my classes. I selected a course in law, which was challenging for me because I had never studied law before. On my first day, the terms and concepts were difficult for me to understand and I started to question whether I should stay in the class. However, with reassurance from my teacher, I decided to try. After a few classes, I started to understand the concepts of law just in time for the Moot Court competition.
At first, I wasn’t familiar with the words ‘moot court,’ but I was quickly informed that it is a competition at which law students argue mock cases. Prior to the competition, law students visited our class periodically to prepare us for the debates. The law students were so supportive and motivating. I started interacting more in class and became more knowledgeable about law strategies and techniques.
Eight out of 37 students were picked from our class for the state competition. I was one of the 8 students chosen to represent our high school. The state competition was held at the University of New Mexico on November 18, 2016. Nine students from each participating high school were present. The competition included various rounds of debates. After I took my turn to compete in the last round, six students were selected to represent New Mexico at the national competition and I was one of them! I’ll be going to Boston, Massachusetts in March 2017 for the national competition.
This was the most incredible moment of my life. I was so glad to see my family and my teachers cheering because their support played a huge part in making all of this possible.
This experience made me realize that one's exchange year is all about overcoming fears in order to accomplish great things!