YES Programs



Cultivating Positive Habits through Exchange Programs

Imane applying eye drops to a patient

By: Imane Tourabi (YES 2015-2016, Morocco, placed by AFS-USA in Brewster, NY) 

The experience of living abroad isn’t just about exploring new places and cultures; it’s also a profound journey of self-discovery and skill acquisition. During my exchange year, I found myself delving into a world of new insights and practices. A prime example lies in my newfound appreciation for reading. Previously, my reading habits were confined to academic necessities; the thought of reading for pleasure hadn't occurred to me. However, my perspective transformed upon arriving in the US, where reading was embraced as a delightful pursuit. Motivated by the culture around me, I started with simple books and gradually transitioned to more advanced literary works. 

Sports also emerged as an avenue for learning and growth. Joining the cross-country team at my host school wasn't just about running; it was a crash course in discipline and teamwork. Although my perception of the US was that of a tech-driven society, I was pleasantly surprised by the diverse skills my school imparted, such as knitting and drawing.  

Among the most lasting habits cultivated was community service. While my Moroccan heritage valued helping others, it often transpired informally. In contrast, my time in the US introduced me to organized community service, where initiatives were carefully orchestrated. This shift was transformative, as I learned to actively seek opportunities to contribute. Engaging in volunteering activities, such as serving meals at a homeless shelter or engaging in heartfelt conversations with those in need, opened my eyes to the impact of structured assistance. 

Returning home, I carried forward this spirit of service, participating in endeavors like spending time with seniors and embellishing their living spaces. Reflecting on my journey, I'm thrilled to recount my recent volunteer engagement with the company I am working with. I worked with a medical caravan held in the village of Taddart, nestled between Taza and Guerssif.  

My role during the event revolved around logistical coordination. I ensured that patients were seamlessly directed to appropriate stations for their specific needs. I also managed treatment timelines and contributed to medication administration. 

The dedication exhibited by the medical professionals was nothing short of inspiring. Despite the unending queue of patients, they were committed to comprehensive examinations, prioritizing individualized care. The caravan aided 2680 patients through medical assessments, blood analyses, and essential medications.  

In summation, my time abroad gave me lasting learning and growth. From igniting a passion for reading and engaging in sports to embracing community service, each left an indelible mark on my journey. It's a reminder that travel isn't just about exploring new horizons; it's about evolving as an individual and embracing the beauty of global interconnectedness.