YES Programs



An Amazing Experience

Alumna poses in front of building wearing YES tshirt

By Ciatta Freemen (YES 2022-2023, Liberia, placed by PAX in Hope, AR)

My name is Ciatta Freeman, and in 2022, I had the great opportunity to attend the KYLES program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

I was scared and excited at the same time. I had never traveled outside of Liberia by myself, but I knew I was on a journey that would shape my life forever and help me to become more responsible, independent, and confident.

When I arrived in my host state, I was at the airport for an hour, where I felt nervous and scared. I worried that my host mom wouldn't come pick me up, or that I'd have to sleep at the airport. But after an hour, I saw my host mom, Sherese. She gave me a tight hug and said welcome. At that moment, I knew I would enjoy my stay and have an amazing experience.

Alumna poses with two adults smiling

During my stay with Sherese, I had sweet and challenging experiences. She was one of the sweetest and most supportive people I've ever met. She provided everything we needed, visited our schools, attended almost every program we had, and took us out shopping or to the movies. She always asked us if we needed anything and made sure we had what we needed. At first, I had difficulty making friends at school, but eventually I found a great group of people who became my friends for life.

After six months, I changed host families. When I finally met my new host family, they became the best family I could ever wish for. They made me feel like I was a part of the family and so comfortable that I didn’t realize my exchange year was over.

I had some incredible experiences during my time in high school. I took three college courses, which helped me boost my GPA. I was also part of different organizations in my school, like the Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), National Honor Society (NHS), Student Council, and the Robotics Team. Being a part of these organizations allowed me to attend different conferences and learn more about leadership, which was a beautiful experience.

Alumna poses with fellow students wearing red

Some of my achievements include graduating in the US with a 4.0 GPA; receiving a certificate of appreciation from the Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA); receiving a certificate for completion of 100+ volunteer hours in the U.S. from the U.S. Department of State; receiving a certificate of completion of the KYLES program from the U.S. Department of State; receiving a certificate of presentation during the International Educational Week from the U.S. Department of State; receiving a certificate of completion of the KYLES program from PAX; and finally, receiving a U.S. high school diploma.

One thing I learned from all these challenges and circumstances is to be grateful for everything because they made me who I am. Graduation, Senior Prom, spending time with host families, friends, and volunteering were some of my favorite experiences that I will never forget.

Alumna poses with two adults smiling at graduation