YES Programs



Beyond the Classroom

Yudha smiling with his arms around his teacher, Mrs. Lanning

By I Wayan Yudha Andayana (YES 2017-2018, Indonesia, placed by AFS-USA in Fairborn, OH)

In the bustling halls of Fairborn High School, amidst the whirlwind of senior year, one teacher stood out – Mrs. Bridget Lanning. As an exchange student from afar, I found myself navigating the intricacies of American life, and it was in Mrs. Lanning's American Government class that I found both guidance and laughter.

From the moment I stepped into her classroom, Mrs. Lanning's warmth enveloped me. Despite the initial language barriers, her genuine curiosity about my background bridged the gap. Our shared laughter over my misunderstanding of "turkey sandwich" on my first day remains etched in my memory – a moment that symbolized the beginning of a special bond. She would often playfully inquire about my lunch, asking if I had enjoyed another "imported delicacy" from the land of Turkey.

Beyond the laughter, Mrs. Lanning's teaching left an indelible mark on my understanding of American governance. Her mnemonic device, "Let's Eat Jelly Sandwiches And Sugar Rolls," transformed the complexities of the U.S. Constitution into digestible knowledge. With her guidance, I navigated through quizzes and tests with newfound confidence.

But it wasn't just about academics; Mrs. Lanning fostered a classroom environment where cultural exchange thrived. Through current events discussions, I shared insights into my home country's diplomacy with the U.S., igniting curiosity in my classmates and teacher alike.

Yudha and his classmates in a group holding an Indonesian flag inside the classroom
Yudha and his U.S. classmates during International Education Week

During International Education Week, I seized the opportunity to share a piece of my culture with Mrs. Lanning's class. As the festive strains of "Jingle Bell Rock" filled the classroom, I distributed keychain souvenirs from Indonesia, each trinket a token of our shared joy and celebration. Mrs. Lanning embraced the spirit of cultural exchange, fostering an atmosphere of unity and understanding.

The joy of celebrating Christmas for the first time was amplified by her genuine enthusiasm and support. As senior year milestones approached, Mrs. Lanning's presence remained unwavering. From accompanying me during senior night to surprising me with a turkey sandwich her support mirrored the cherished role of a teacher as a second parent.

Yudha and his teacher stand in the hallway
Yudha meets Mrs. Lanning again six years after his exchange year

Even after my return to my homeland and subsequent endeavors, Mrs. Lanning's impact continued to resonate. Following my participation in the YES Alumni Changemaker Workshop in Virginia in March 2024, I seized the opportunity to return to my host community in Fairborn, Ohio. Determined to surprise Mrs. Lanning, I made sure to visit the high school. To my disappointment, she wasn't in her classroom. However, as I searched for her in the cafeteria, she suddenly emerged from the other side of the room, rushing towards me with open arms. "You were the last person I expected to see today," she exclaimed. Our conversation unfolded with genuine joy and fond reminiscence.

Mrs. Bridget Lanning's classroom was more than a place of learning; it was a sanctuary of acceptance, laughter, and growth. Her dedication to her students transcended borders, leaving an enduring legacy of inspiration and gratitude in the hearts of all who had the privilege of learning from her.