By Bishoy Mouris (YES 2019-2020, Egypt, placed by AFS-USA in Ashville, OH)
Two years ago, I decided to go on an exchange program to the U.S. My journey of defining my unique identity began the moment that I stepped out of my comfort zone.
I was placed in a small school in a small town in Ohio. I was the first Egyptian student in my host community, so my peers wanted to learn more about my story. During the first month, I was surprised that so many of my school peers had misconceptions about Egypt, and I quickly realized that it was my responsibility to expand their worldview. So, I decided to share my Egyptian culture with my host community by using my presentation skills.
I prepared a presentation that included several aspects of my culture, like food, traditions, and music. I made karkadeh, a traditional Egyptian drink, for them to try. I was proud of breaking these misconceptions and stereotypes. These kinds of experiences, and so many others, are what make the YES program unforgettable.
My exchange year was a life-changing experience for me. It helped me to build long-lasting relationships and made the world a smaller place. But for me, the most important part is that it helped me define my true identity—a global citizen who is capable of making a change.