YES Programs



Exchange Euphoria

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Many exchange students experience a sense of euphoria at some point during their exchange year. Despite some challenges, there can be moments where students feel like everything has fallen into place and they're on top of the world. We're delighted that Elissa from Lebanon shared with us her overflowing joy at one such moment this Fall.

By Elissa Mazkour (YES 2018 – 2019, Lebanon, hosted by American Councils PO in Waimea, Big Island, HI)

I’ve been planning my story for more than a month now. Every time something amazing happens (every week) I feel like I am inspired, and have so much to talk about, and the best place to do so, is through submitting a story.

Elissa Hawaii

I left home with mixed feelings, but you know what? Everything that I have been doing - for example theatre, debate, and meeting lots and lots of people - has showed me what this year is really about. For three weeks, I had a really busy schedule. I was in a Fall Play for Shakespeare, and it took a lot of my time, but it was such a great experience, and so much fun. The next week, I had lots of homework and tests, and then that Saturday my school had a debate tournament over in Oahu. We did great!!! My partner and I got a certificate for winning over half of our ballets!I feel grateful and thankful. My host parents are wonderful, Parker School is beyond outstanding, and the people... Oh my goodness, they’re just amazing! My friends at school are smart, fun, and really nice. 

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And don't forget my teachers! Every single teacher I’ve ran into at Parker is wonderful. Everyone helps you, and is actually there for you, for any reason. I love this community here in Hawaii, The Big Island. 

I want to thank all of the people and the YES program for everything you have done for me. On Sunday I got to meet the other students placed by American Councils all around Hawaii. It was amazing getting to see even more and more cultures. Everyone was so nice! Have a great week everyone.

When's the last time you felt as positive and grateful as Elissa? We hope all YES students have had at least one such moment in their first semester, and that everyone will have a reason to share their joy this holiday season and leading into the next semester.


May is #HostForAmerica month! 

Go to to submit YOUR story about how living with a host family or hosting a YES student has changed your life!

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