YES Programs



A Home Away from Home

Leb Sally Akhdar And Hma

Sally Akhdar (YES 2019 - 2020, Lebanon, hosted by AFS in Moorestown, NJ) was recently featured in an article in published in the Moorestown Sun - check out the excerpt below!

Since arriving in Moorestown about a month ago, Sally Akhdar has already encountered a few misconceptions about her life in Lebanon. She lets out a good-natured laugh as she recounts when one of her new classmates asked her if she travels to school by camel. (For the record, she doesn’t.)

“That’s what I’m here for – to prove we’re not that; we’re the same,” Akhdar said.

Akhdar is spending the entirety of her junior year at Moorestown High School through the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program. Established by Congress in 2002, the program provides scholarships for high school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend up to one academic year in the United States.

The YES program also sends students abroad as well. In 2009, the YES Abroad program was created to provide American students with an opportunity to study in YES countries. The program is funded through the United States Department of State and is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs.

Moorestown resident Melanie Pierce is serving as Akhdar’s host mom for the year. Despite only having known each other for a few short weeks, the two have already settled into an easy rapport with one another. Both see the exchange as an opportunity to grow and learn in the year to come.

For Akhdar, visiting America is the fulfillment of a dream. She said she’s grown up watching American YouTubers and bloggers, and so naturally, her hope was to one day visit these places herself. When she learned about the YES Program, she knew it was her opportunity.

Click here to read more about Sally and her host mom Melanie as they share their year together in New Jersey!


In May, write a thank you letter to your host family, host community, or favorite teacher! 

Check out this month's story prompt at and submit your story!