Through the U.S. Department of State’s Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program, high school students from countries with significant Muslim populations live and study for an academic year in the United States. YES students serve as “youth ambassadors” of their home country, promoting mutual understanding by forming lasting relationships with their host families and communities. Participants live with a host family, attend an American high school, acquire leadership skills, and engage in activities to learn about U.S. society and values; they also help educate Americans about their home country and culture. Applicants compete for YES scholarships through a rigorous, merit-based selection process. While on program, participants live with American host families, attend high school, and engage in community service and civic education activities. The YES program was established by Congress in October 2002 in response to the events of September 11, 2001. The YES Abroad program was established in 2009 to provide a similar experience for U.S. students (15-18.5 years) to spend an academic year in select YES countries.
The program currently accept students from the following countries:
Albania | Bahrain | Bangladesh | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Bulgaria | Cameroon | Egypt | Gaza | Ghana | India | Indonesia | Israel (Arab Communities) | Jordan | Kenya | Kosovo | Kuwait | Lebanon | Liberia | Libya | Malaysia | Mali | Morocco | Mozambique | Nigeria | North Macedonia | Pakistan | Philippines | Saudi Arabia | Senegal | Sierra Leone | South Africa | Suriname | Tanzania | Thailand | Tunisia | Turkey | West Bank.
In-country non-profit exchange organizations, led by American Councils for International Education, recruit and select YES participants and coordinate alumni activities. Non-profit exchange organizations place and support the YES students in the United States.