by Melvin Kamara Jr. (YES 2021-2022, Liberia, placed by AFS-USA in Cedar Hill City, TX)
Since my return to Liberia, I’ve been able to spend time with my family, hang out with my friends, and do some of the old things I did before my exchange experience. I’ve also worked to be a cultural ambassador. I have helped inform my peers and the local community about American culture and about diversity. Through my actions, more people have become open-minded to different cultures and countries. My favorite experience was when my friend asked me about the U.S. and I was able to provide information to them based on my experience during my exchange year. While in the U.S., I grew and learned more about the world.
I even attended an event called “ Student’s Forum” hosted by the Board of Education in my country. The even brought together all the schools in my city. It was an event aimed to educate students on their civil rights, responsibilities, and the importance of their role in promoting free and equal learning opportunities for students at all grade levels. More than 500 students participated in the event. I even had the opportunity to share my exchange experience and more information about the YES program at the event.
As my experience in the U.S. was great, I will continue to be a change-maker in my community. I hope to organize small group projects such as providing peer-to-peer education on civil engagement and inclusive governance. I want to say thank you to the Department of State and the YES program for giving me a life-changing opportunity. Being an exchange student wasn’t easy but I know it was successful because of the volunteers, staff, host families, and my community. I’m excited to see where my future activities lead me.