YES Programs



Albania Celebrates International Education Week

Photos of Albanian YES students presenting during International Education Week

By Mirsela Gorani (YES 2013-2014, Albania, placed by AYA/AIFS in Pamplico, SC)

One might wonder — what does an exchange student gain from a cultural exchange program? How do host families and communities benefit from having someone from across the world in their homes or lives? Well, alumni and their host families might have an answer for you!

In celebration of International Education Week, alumni asked these questions to their fellow YES and FLEX alumni friends and host families, who then shared their perspectives through video or text message. In this Instagram video, each respondent expressed their thoughts in their own way, but the message was clear: everyone loves this experience! Whether it is hosting or being hosted, the experience is life-changing and enriching.

Cultural exchange goes far beyond learning about other countries through TV, social media, or the internet. Having a representative of another country in your home enriches your point of view about other countries, cultures, languages, habits, and the world itself.

However, the experience is not just a cultural exchange, but also an emotional exchange, filled with learning and growing, connecting families from all over the world, and creating unbreakable bonds.

Exchange students are grateful for this experience as it provides the opportunity to have a second family and become friends with hundreds (or even thousands) of students, not just from the U.S. but also from all over the world.

This lovely video was not all that YES alumni from Albania did for IEW. Current students from Albania conducted more than a dozen presentations in their host communities. They got to be ambassadors of Albania, sharing with their classmates and communities about interfaith harmony, the transition from communism to democracy, history, UNESCO World Heritage sites, why people should visit Albania, words in Albanian, and Albanian folklore dances.

IEW teaches us that different cultures and traditions are what make the world so beautiful and unique, and, despite our differences, we are all one. Through cultural exchange, we can make the world a better place, building global connections and enriching each other’s lives. 

For contributing to this heartwarming video, we would like to thank Aleksis Satka (YES 2018-2019, Albania, placed by PAX in Lehi, UT) and her host parents, Richard and Jill-Marie Gwilliam; Sefeda Lazaj (YES 2019-2020, Albania, placed by Aspect in Broomfield, CO) and her host mother Susan Erker; Anxhela Gorani (YES 2019-2020, Albania, placed by S4-H in Kenai, AK), her host father Eric Parnell, and host grandmother Sheri Cole; Sindi Kenxo (YES 2019-2020, Albania, placed by AYA/AIFS in Vale, OR); Amanda Fusheza (YES 2015-2016, Albania, placed by PAX in Nashville, IN); and FLEX Georgia alumna Diana Narimanidze.