By Rose Mary Ngwafu (YES 2017-2018, Cameroon, placed by AFS-USA in Buffalo, NY)
It’s been seven years since I participated in the YES program. When I was first accepted for the program, my friends didn’t approve of my decision saying I was wasting my time chasing fantasies. I didn’t let that bother me, however, because I knew I wanted. I had goals and I had a vision. I believed in the YES program. And although I was quite a shy person at the time, I always made sure to go after what I wanted despite the external voices.
When I first arrived in the U.S., I was one of the last people to receive a host family. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to be hosted by two amazing people who taught me how to get out of my comfort zone and speak my opinion. They showed me what it’s like to be a part of a family with people you’ve never met before. I did a lot of new things while I was in the U.S. on program. I attended an American high school and even joined a basketball team. I went on trips with my host family and even visited Disney World in Florida. I also had the chance to engage in community service and learned what it means to be a true leader. At the end of the program, it was hard to say goodbye to my host family but I knew I would see them again someday.
With the skills I learned from my time in the U.S., I returned home and was able to apply for alumni opportunities. This year, I was selected to participate in the Beyond YES Africa Summit hosted in Tanzania. Before this, in 2021, I was accepted to take part in the Global Village for Future Leaders held in Pennsylvania and was able to attend the reunion in 2022. When I returned to the U.S. for the Global Village, I had the chance to visit my host family. After four years, we finally had a chance to reunite and see each other!
It was so amazing how my family had expanded! My host mom and dad now have Caleb and Grace (and I now have a host brother and sister). I also got to reunite with my extended host family and was welcomed by my host family’s relatives with open arms. I even got to meet my host mom’s best friend and had the chance to say hi to my host uncles and aunts. It was also wonderful getting to see my host grandparents, Poppop and Gigi, making dinner for their grandkids. The family had grown so much but it all felt so familiar. It was wonderful to see them all again after four years being apart.
I am really grateful to God for such a blessing, my supportive family in Africa, the YES program, my placement organization AFS, my host family and friends, and my local coordinator and my coordinator in Cameroon. Thank you!