YES Programs



A November to Remember

Viktoria And Host Family In First Show

By Viktoria P. (YES 2018-2019, Bulgaria, hosted by AYUSA in Stewartstown, PA)

This month has been great – I celebrated my first Halloween, took part in International Education Week (IEW) and then had my first Thanksgiving! It has been unforgettable, and I’m so thankful for the opportunities that YES gives me! 

In celebration of IEW, I made my host family traditional Bulgarian dishes - banitsa and moussaka. Banitsa is a typical breakfast made with pastry, eggs and typical Bulgarian cheese which you bake. Moussaka is made with potatoes, meat, onions, carrots, and tomato sauce. Everything is mixed together and then baked in the oven. My host family absolutely loved the dishes, so much so that there were no leftovers!

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Viktoria does a presentation on Bulgaria at school.

For IEW, I decided to visit my middle school on the International Day of Tolerance (November 16) and do six presentations and a speech. Then, Tuesday of the following week, my high school organized a presentation in the auditorium for all students who study a foreign language. In total, more than 250 people came to my presentations! I shared many things about my country: geography and history, cuisine, interesting and strange facts, and even dance. Dancing is my passion - I dance Bulgarian folklore dances professionally, so when I asked my classmates if they wanted to learn a traditional dance, they were so excited! I also shared about Bulgarian holidays, music, rituals, and traditions! 

After every presentation, the students had many more questions than before; they were curious and demonstrated much interest in what I shared. I am most grateful for this! To celebrate International Day of Tolerance, I also made a poster with a “tolerance” tree on it. After my presentation, I asked people to write what tolerance means to them on a sticky note, and we put all their notes on the tree – it was so full!

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Viktoria, pictured here with the Bulgarian flag and the "tolerance" tree made with her classmates.

To make my classmates aware of International Education Week and the International Day of Tolerance, I wrote two articles for my school’s newspaper: one about the holiday and the other about the differences between high schools in Bulgaria and the U.S. I am so grateful to have participated in IEW. I hope I made an impact, and I’m happy that I shared so much about the beautiful place I call home! Not only do I feel like part of my community, but I also feel very connected with my country.

Finally, this past week has been very busy. On November 16, my drama club had the first show of the fall play: 12 Angry Jurors. It was an amazing experience that has helped me to meet so many new people, many of whom are now some of my closest friends. The rehearsals were long, but everything was worth it because it turned out great! We had two more shows, and each time, the auditorium was full! I will always remember the first show - it was so emotional. I can’t wait for the musical! On top of all of this, I still even managed to find time to volunteer at my local library and church. 

After a busy three weeks, Thanksgiving came, which felt like a reward! I spent a really amazing time with my host family: we cooked together, watched films, and played board games, and I’m so thankful that they give me so much support and believe in me and the things I’m doing! Thank you, YES!