YES Programs



Don’t Give Up on Your Dreams

Nuhay with friends and host mom cooking at a kitchen counter

By Nuhay Alhajj (YES 2021-2022, Libya, placed by CIEE in Dixon, CA)

"You have to go through the worst until you can reach the best.” This has always been my favorite quote, though I never fully understood it until I experienced it.

A group of high school students in green graduation regalia

I grew up in a small, conservative town in Libya, where everyone knows each other. I first heard of the program through a friend, who encouraged me to apply. I knew that the YES program would be a challenging experience, and I was wracked with self-doubt. Even after being selected, I was still worried that my English wasn’t good enough, and that I wasn’t good enough.

I also faced resistance from my community. People weren’t accepting of a girl traveling abroad, and they all had their own concerns about my safety and my studies. Despite all of that, my father always encouraged me to follow my dreams and achieve my goals. He truly believed in me, and that made me believe in myself.

After a long waiting period, I was finally assigned a host family just two days before I was due to travel. I was jumping for joy when I heard the news! I traveled to a beautiful city in California with a sweet host family. I had traveled through the worst, but I found the best in my host community. I matured, tried so many new things, and met people from all over the world.

Now I have an inspiring story to tell about never giving up on your dreams! I am excited to share this lesson with everyone in my community, and my future children and grandchildren.