By Fawz Elbeshti (YES 2019 – 2020, Libya, hosted by AFS-USA, in Glenwood, GA)
Hello! I’m Fawz Elbeshti from Libya and I’ve just started my exchange year in the US! Let me tell you about my first week as a YES 2019-2020 Student in the US! I left Libya excited to finally start my journey to the United States as my dream was about to come true. The travel days were extremely exhausting and although we were tired, we were happy.
We went arrived in D.C. for orientation and soon we made memories filled with teams, friendships, and roommates. In such a short time we became a family from all around the world, with one common identity, we are all YES students. I made friends with students from Tunisia, Morocco, Pakistan, Lebanon and the list goes on! When we all had to leave D.C. and start our journeys on our own, I teared up while everybody was leaving. Yet I now have a big family all over the US and I’m so proud of how everybody’s doing!
I flew to Atlanta for my placement organization orientation, and made a whole new set of friends from Germany, Italy, France, Austria, Finland, Argentina, Spain, Thailand and Japan – this is cultural exchange! By the time orientation ended, I was ready to leave for my new home. My host dad picked me up and we started driving the house! I knew it wouldn’t be easy to adjust, but I believed in myself since I have the courage to my leave my home and go on a new adventure. With this confidence I knew I could do it!
My first day of school was mind-blowing. Everyone somehow knew me and was so sweet and welcoming. I thought to myself that it might not be as hard as I thought. The classes were fun, and I got a lot of “hellos” at my first Lunch in the cafeteria! I also got questions about my hijab, where Libya is located, and what it’s like back home. I was so happy to answer their curious questions so they can understand me more. Everyone was so accepting, and that’s the whole point of exchange, and the reason why I’m currently on this YES adventure. My first Friday at school was a huge relief to me, because the first week of school felt like it lasted forever. Now I know my class schedule, and I’m still in the process of making friends.
Day by day, I get to know more about my little town or as I call it my new home. Slowly, I’m getting more familiar to my surroundings, and all the green nature of southern Georgia. I’m also getting over my fear of dogs, and I’ll probably pet them by the end of my exchange year! My new home is a small town in the south of Georgia, surrounded by green nature, and is peaceful and quiet.
I’m still working on settling in, but I’m making memories every single moment. I’m not saying it was perfect, I’m not saying it was awful, but I’m here to say is that I didn’t know I could do this but here I am, standing strong, knowing it’s not easy, yet I’m starting to love everything about this experience. I’m here to learn, teach, enjoy, make memories and challenge myself. One week down, 41 more weeks to go!