YES Programs



Embracing Differences

Adinda standing in front of her High School

by Adinda Nandyani (YES 22-23, Indonesia, placed by AFS-USA in Westfield, Indiana)

Hello! I am Adinda from Indonesia. Being able to experience life abroad has always been my dream since childhood and I am very grateful to be a part of the YES program. The journey to get this opportunity has been just as far as the long flight from Indonesia to America (or even longer!), but it's so worth it and it will be the most beautiful moment of my life! #ThankYouYES

Have you ever been in a crowd but felt as though you were alone because you felt different from most people around you? That's how I felt when I first came here. And this is my story of embracing differences and accepting that being different is okay.

Ina Adinda With Other Exchange Students In Her School
With other exchange students in my host school

I was born and grew up in a Muslim family and I wear hijab all the time. When I first came to America, I was very worried about how people would see me. These thoughts really bothered me, but I realized if I kept these thoughts going, it would negatively impact my experience here. So I tried to open up more and reassure myself that everything would be okay.

And sure enough, what I feared never happened. The fact is that everyone welcomed me -my host family, teachers, friends, and everyone I met. My fear about the differences instead became a way for me to share and exchange stories with my host community. They said that seeing someone wearing the hijab was still quite foreign to them because they rarely see people who wear the hijab. I felt very happy because I could tell them about my country, my culture, and my religion. Everyone was very appreciative and always enthusiastic to know more about me. I also gained a lot of insight about my host community, which opened my mind to other perspectives.

I met a lot of people through school and volunteer activities and always received enthusiastic responses from the people I met. The volunteer activities that I participate in are many and varied, ranging from those related to children and teenagers to adults, and I am always happy to share many things with them. I joined the lacrosse sports club, and I became the first player in school to wear hijab! Because I'm wearing hijab, the sports uniform I wear is different from the rest of the team and that makes me proud.

Adinda with her classmates holding traditional Batik fabric
My classmates and I holding traditional cloth called Batik

I'm also in musical theater and we'll be performing in December. The costumes I'll be wearing will also be different from the other actors, and I'm proud. I got a lot of support and positive response from people, and it made me even more convinced that being different is okay. I can't wait to have more exciting experiences!

In the end, I realized that there was nothing to be afraid of. It is the differences that help us learn and share about each other, and that is beautiful! I hope that all my friends who may feel the same way as I do will no longer be afraid to show their differences.

See you in another story!  Terima kasih! (Thank You in Bahasa Indonesia)