By Achraf Mortaji (YES 2018 – 2019, Morocco, hosted by AFS in Guildford, CT)
At the beginning of my exchange year, I had a meeting with my counselor to decide on what classes I was planning to take in my new high school. When we were almost done, there was room left for one more class but I wasn't sure what elective I wanted to take. My counselor suggested that I take theater experience; a class that I would certainly enjoy because of my love for art. I wasn't sure at first, because I've never done any theater before. Well... except when I was five years old, but that doesn't really count, does it?
When school started I was excited about my new classes, and curious about the theater class. As the weeks passed, I started looking forward to the end of the school day to go to that class, which happened to be on my last period. The teacher, Cara Mulqueen-Teasdale, was wonderful at her job and made me fall in love with theater, and she convinced me to audition for the fall play at my host school.
After my audition and the call-backs, I was thrilled to hear that I was cast in "Mr. Burns: A Post Electric Play". I was excited to meet the people that I was going to be spending long hours with after school to pull this beautiful piece together.
I quickly became friends with the cast and the technicians, and I got closer to them every day. I loved being on stage, and I loved singing with those talented people. I loved having my theater experience teacher as the director.
After a month, the last days of rehearsals came to an end, and I realized how grateful I was to be a part of that play and of the theater community. I learned a lot from this experience, and from the joy of performing. I am never going to forget the night when the fire alarm went off after the first five minutes of us performing and having to take off our costumes and mics to go outside in the rain then go back inside to perform in front of all the people who stayed to watch us and support our work.
I am also never going to forget how excited I was to see my picture in the front page of the local newspaper of the place that I stated to feel comfortable calling home. I am also never going to forget how much I loved this theater experience and of course my teacher and director Miss Mulqueen.
Now, I'm looking forward to the spring musical "Anything Goes". I will be working hard for the next month to get cast. I am also grateful to the YES program for this life changing opportunity.