YES Programs



Civic Education Workshop: Unforgettable Week, Unforgettable Memories

Muskan standing with group in front of Washington Monument
Muskan standing in front of American flag

By Muskan Fatima (YES 2023-2024, Pakistan, placed by BFF in Denver, Colorado)

As an exchange student, I had the opportunity to learn at the Civic Education Workshop (CEW) in Washington D.C. The workshop spanned five days, and we had the chance to visit a variety of educational landmarks that included prominent places such as memorials, American Councils, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Senate, and the Whitehouse. Communicating with senators and representatives enhanced our conversations about current events. These conversations demonstrated ways that constituents carry civic responsibility in the United States according to two pillars of the nation's constitutional law: the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. These conversations also brought to light the structures and processes for collective decision-making initiated by governmental bodies. I had a great feeling of pride in my soul as this event opened a window of understanding to these leadership roles.

Muskan standing in front of senator's office

Taking part in the workshop and other exchange programs during this year has immensely empowered me to do things I had never done before. These experiences have been a liberating opportunity because I have gotten to be in an environment that I was always so afraid of. At first, I was in a new culture, language, and social structure, and this was problematic for me. It was a process that ultimately placed a multitude of useful skills in my toolbox such as self-sufficiency, flexibility, and a knack for solving complex problems. I believe these skills will be with me forever, and they will promote leadership and personal growth processes as well as my professional development.

To conclude, I am thankful to American Councils, the U.S. Department of State, and the YES program for giving me the opportunity to join this life-changing journey. I am also eternally grateful for BFF and my host family who was there for me the whole year. With their encouragement I have been able to move forward with new feelings and experiences.