By Sahar Karim (YES 2022-2023, Pakistan, placed by PAX in Oshkosh, WI)
From being a kid doubting my potential to becoming a teenager believing in myself, it’s all been worth it. Being from Pakistan and wanting to explore the world, coming to the U.S. for the YES program had always been my dream. I had always wanted to come out of my comfort zone and challenge myself. I had always wanted to explore, enjoy a new culture and expose myself to new traditions during an exchange year. Making it this far hasn’t been easy. It took many tests and trials to get here, but I know that living in a completely different culture with different people is an adventure in itself.
When I arrived in the U.S. a few weeks ago, it took me a while to make myself believe that I had finally started the program. I am excited that I get to attend an American high school and learn about different cultures in the U.S. I am also looking forward to learning more about U.S. history, government, and journalism. Meeting exchange students from different countries during the program orientation made me realize just how enthusiastic everyone is to be a youth ambassador. As an ambassador for my country, I know how important it is to also represent my country, culture, and traditions.
Getting to be with my amazing host family over these past few weeks has been incredible. For my host family, I actually brought traditional dresses from back home to tell them about my culture and even made them some of my favorite dishes - they loved it! Everyone I have met in my host community has been so kind and understanding. I have always been enthusiastic to share my culture with others and it feels great to be able to do that in the U.S.
I know I still have a long time in the U.S., but I am really looking forward to making the most of my exchange year. I have come this far to say “YES” to new opportunities that come my way. For example, I had my first hike around Lake Michigan this past week. I hope to continue having many more adventures like that! I believe this year will be a great way to grow and better understand myself and others and am looking forward to continuing my learning.