By Youssef Badawy (YES 2019–2020, Kuwait, hosted by CIEE in Nampa, ID)
This exchange year was a dream because of everything I experienced, but most of all because of the people that I met. My friends always supported me and made me feel at home, my awesome teachers taught me a lot and cared about me, my coaches pushed me to be the best version of myself until I made it to Idaho State Swimming Championship, my coordinators were always there for me and helped me, and, above all, there was my loving host family. I don't call them host family; I call them my family. Thank you for supporting me and making feel like I never left home. It is easy to build a house but the hardest thing is to build a home and a family. You are my home and my family. I will never forget about you and how you were always there for me.
I would first like to address my mom: you have helped me since day one. You are a superhero, a lady who works hard for her family, and you considered me a member of your amazing family from the moment you saw me in the airport. To my dad, the high school teacher. You are a brilliant father who taught me a lot about life and history. You were always there at my meets and games. To my siblings, Benton and Julia, you are the best. I remember when you two would get furious when you lost in Monopoly, and I like that. You both taught me how to be determined and work hard to achieve my dreams. Oh, by the way, this Christmas was my favorite. Thank you. I left the U.S., but I left a piece of my heart there.
One letter won’t be enough to thank my friends who never gave up on me, my teacher and coordinators who pushed me to be the best version of myself, and my family. May we meet again, and we will always stay in contact. Who knows, maybe one day I will see you knocking on my door in Kuwait. Remember that you will always have a family in Kuwait.
I would also like to thank the Senators and Representatives of Idaho for meeting me and coming to my International Education Week presentations. And of course, I would like to thank the YES family that made this dream come true. I plan on working hard to show everyone all the good that the YES program did for me. Going back home isn't the end, but the beginning of a great story. The YES program taught me how to be a leader and how to help others, and that's what I'm planning on doing.
To everyone, the word "thanks" is not enough, but trust me, the day they create a word that describes my feelings, you will be the first ones ever to see it in text.