By Dhoha Bekiwi (YES 2018–2019, Saudi Arabia, hosted by CIEE in Farmington, ME)
I wrote this reflection after the Civic Education Workshop in DC, but I’m publishing it after my exchange year since I realized how many more people I need to thank. I am so glad I applied to Civic Education Week as I’ll always remember the inspiring people I met during the workshop. I think it’s appropriate to thank everyone who has dedicated their careers to give us the best experience in the United States.
Civic Education Week was such a special time, and probably one of the best experiences of my exchange year. I was accepted alongside 100 other young ambassadors to go to DC for an educational workshop that focused on politics and leadership. This workshop gave us the opportunity to learn about American government, and U.S. International Affairs Policy. I met Maine’s senators and state representatives in the capitol state buildings. I had coffee with Rep. Jared Golden, I talked about living in Maine with Susan Collins, and discussed education opportunities with Senator Angus King. As a young global citizen, those meetings in the Capitol were a dream come true as I strive to work towards peace.
To Senator Kennedy and Senator Lugar, the people who had the idea to bring all these students from around the world together, to the people who work on arranging our flights, to the people who make our food and lodging accommodations every time we go to DC, to the people who organized meetings with state representatives and senators during Civic Education Week, to every employee who works on the YES Program, I want to thank you for making this year one of the best years of my life.
Thank you for letting me know that I matter and that I can make a change in this world. Thank you for dedicating your whole career to international students. Thank you for checking on us every monthly, carefully reading our surveys, and for supporting our achievements. I want my host community in Farmington, Maine, and the rest of the United States to know that their support of exchange students like me promotes a more tolerant world. Exchange programs like YES are such a wonderful experience both for students and the host families. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to exchange our world.