YES Programs



Christmas Dream

Tur K Demir Xmas Friends

By K. Demir Bulut (YES 2018-2019, Turkey, placed by IRIS in Jefferson, IA)

Since I was a little kid, the idea of Christmas amazed me. In Turkey, we do not really celebrate Christmas but we celebrate the New Year with traditions similar to Christmas. I remember opening up my gifts on New Year’s Eve under the Christmas tree every year. 

Tur K Demir Xmas Concert
At my host school's holiday concert

When I learned that I was going to be in the USA during Christmas, it was really thrilling to think that I was finally going to experience a true American Christmas. I tried to do as many Christmas traditions as I could while I was there. I helped my host father decorate the Christmas tree, made Christmas cards with my host mother and sent some back home, hung a Christmas stocking under my name (my host father even made a handmade wood hanger for my stocking!), bought an ugly Christmas sweatshirt and fuzzy socks, volunteered to ring bells for the Salvation Army, watched the classic movie “White Christmas” with my host family, drank eggnog, played sleigh bells and other instruments at our high school Christmas Concert, built a snowman, bought gifts for my friends and family, and finally had a Christmas dinner and breakfast with my host family. 

Trying to find good gifts for my host family and friends was really tricky. I have always been bad at getting gifts, anyway. Thankfully, my coordinator Alesia was with me while shopping to give me some advice on what to get them! They really liked their gifts. My host brother Kevin bought me a huge Hershey’s Chocolate Bar; it was so big that it took 10 friends to eat it all.

When I look back, I realize how much fun I had during Christmas. I still cannot believe it was three years ago; time is crazy. I hope that one day I can go back to the United States to have another Christmas there.