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December Students of the Month

December Students of the Month

This month we have a Student of the Month and an honorable mention! Above photo left: Puteri “Nabila” Marfa (YES 2019-2020, Indonesia, hosted by World Link in Exeter, CA). Above photo right: Elma Focic (YES 2019-2020, Bosnia & Herzegovina, hosted by ASSE in Belleville, IL).

We are happy to announce the December 2019 YES Student of the Month, Puteri “Nabila” Marfa! Nabila is placed by World Link and hosted in Exeter, CA where she attends Exeter High School.

Nabila Batik Display 1
Nabila's Batik Display

Nabila is a self-starter who takes initiative to share her culture and find ways to serve others. With 97 volunteer hours since her arrival in the United States, Nabila is only three hours away from earning a 100+ hour community service certificate from the Department of State. Instead of waiting for service opportunities to present themselves, she searched the internet to find places in her community that might need her help. After seeing that only two employees at the Chamber of Commerce are responsible for many community events, Nabila reached out. Since then, she has helped prepare community festivals, mailings, and an annual downtown scarecrow competition. She has served at pancake breakfasts that raise funds for local parks and regularly volunteers for the Boys and Girls Club and the public library. She has packed and collected food for the underserved, visited veterans, and worked many booths at local festivals, including game booths, a bounce house, and a henna tattoo station. Utilizing her favorite hobby, sewing, she is making dresses for girls in need around the world.  

Nabila is passionate about sharing her culture and has given 22 cultural presentations, reaching nearly 600 people. At school, she created and distributed a crossword puzzle to teach others about Indonesian food and culture. She hosted an Indonesian cultural food fair during lunch, where she gave out a small prize to the first person who finished the puzzle. Nabila also gave presentations at a local elementary school and a nursing home, where she decorated for Christmas and served eggnog and cookies to the residents. Wanting to introduce batik, the traditional method of dying cloth, to her host community, she gained permission from city hall staff to put up a display at the Exeter Gallery and Courthouse Museum. Nabila also set up a batik display in her school.

Nabila maintains straight A’s and has made many friends at school through her involvement in FFA, Key Club, Community Care Club, and AP PACT, an anti-smoking club.  

A shining example for the program, Nabila volunteers eagerly and with a smile. 

Congratulations, Nabila!


Honorable Mention: Elma Focic (YES 2019-2020, Bosnia & Herzegovina, hosted by ASSE in Belleville, IL).

We are happy to announce Elma Focic as the December 2019 YES Student of the Month Honorable Mention!  Elma is placed by ASSE and hosted in Belleville, Illinois where she attends Belleville West High School.

Elma Photo 2 On Right At Sleepout For The Homeless

Elma has already made a lasting impact on her host school and community, and the YES program is making positive, lasting imprints on Elma’s life.  She gave nine cultural presentations during International Education Week (IEW), reaching over 300 people. Reflecting on IEW she states, “It was one of the most amazing weeks so far in the U.S.”

Elma began volunteering the day after she arrived in her host community.  She has volunteered nearly 50 hours in the church nursery, at the Midwest Salute to the Arts festival, and in the stables at a local farm.  One of her favorite volunteering experiences has been with the Bridges Program through her host school district, working with students with developmental disabilities. Through the Key Club at Belleville West High School, she has met friends with similar interests, and she said she feels they form an “unselfish team” that does good in the community.  In October, the group collected donations of clothes, food, toiletries, and money for Sleepout for Homeless in St. Louis. The team also showed students in their school what it looks like to be homeless and taught the students how they can help.   

On September 11, Elma and her classmates watched a video about the events of that day.  A fellow student commented that he did not like Muslims. When Elma heard the comment, she remembered her pre-departure orientation (PDO) and realized she had an opportunity to share another perspective of Islam.  Though public speaking was not one of her strengths, she found her voice and conquered her stage fright.  Elma spoke from the heart, telling stories of genocide in her country as well as her understanding of her religion.  Her heartfelt words left the class speechless, and her teacher asked if she would be willing to share her story with other classes. She agreed and is now learning valuable skills in public speaking. She reflected, “I was in a position where I had an opportunity to break the stereotypes and teach young people.  I feel I am accomplishing one of the goals of the YES program.”

Congratulations, Elma!


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