YES Programs



An Unforgettable Experience

YES student, Wareesha at the Golden Gate Bridge.

By Waressha Mufti (YES 2022-2023, Pakistan, Placed by CIEE in Lodi, CA)

It almost feels as if it was yesterday when I was on a plane not knowing what to expect, but excited for what the future had in store for me. On September 8th, I arrived in Sacramento, California. When I saw my host family for the first time, I was very happy and excited. I have a host dad, host mom, two younger brothers and a little host sister. My younger host brother, Muhammad, is always sweet and gives me hugs. I love every minute of spending time with him because I have never had a brother before.

Wareesha holding the Pakistani flag and standing next to her host family at the airport.

My beautiful host family welcomed me with bouquets, balloons, and chocolates. They welcomed me to their home and my host mom cooked biryani for me.  My host family immediately made me feel like a family member.

Wareesha and her host family eating Pakistani food.

I’ve tried different American foods, such as bubble tea, danish pastries, ranch sauce and much more. I also made Pakistani food for my host family like biryani, which is a rice dish made with spices and usually some type of meat or potatoes. I also made saag, which is a leaf vegetable dish eaten with makai roti, a flat bread made from corn meal. I made them chicken karahi, which is a tomato and ginger based thick masala curry. My host family loves my Pakistani food.

Wareesha holding a Pakistani flag and presenting at class during IEW.

On November 14th, I gave my very first presentation in my U.S. History Class. I prepared colorful slides and I wore a black cultural dress that had different embroideries and traditional silver jewelry. Giving six presentations in  two days made me experience culture exchange on a new level. I enjoyed spreading awareness of my culture and coming to the understanding that we are all more similar than different. It makes people understand each other more. Students and even teachers were very curious to know more about the education system, religion, and different customs in Pakistan.  I am very thankful to the YES program for giving me an opportunity to be a proud Pakistani exchange student.