YES Programs



Exploring Horizon: Hammad Nasir’s Program Journey

Nasir posing with Washington monument.

By Hammad Nasir (YES 2023-2024, Pakistan, placed by AFS-USA in Olympia, WA)

Navigating a childhood marked by limited financial resources and raised solely by my mother following my parents' divorce, the prospect of pursuing education in the U.S. seemed like a distant dream. Fortunately, a friend introduced me to the YES program, and as a skilled debater and speaker in my school, I saw it as my chance to represent my country on a grand scale. Despite the hurdles, my passion and the desire to make a difference fueled my motivation to pursue the program. Thanks to the YES scholarship, I got the opportunity to grasp and later share my insights into American culture. I learned about social gatherings, the hospitable nature during parties, and even the cultural differences, like early dinner times. The experience positively impacted me, fostering an appreciation for global similarities and acceptance.

Hammad holding Pakistani Flag with Classmates.

The well-organized and scheduled life in the U.S. was initially astonishing for me, making the YES program one of my best teachers. It instilled in me a respect for others, an acknowledgment of everyone's uniqueness, and a commitment to punctuality. I shared aspects of my culture with Americans, actively dispelling stereotypes and promoting mutual understanding. Participating in International Education Week (IEW), I delivered numerous presentations about Pakistan, sharing insights on diverse topics such as cuisine, fashion, geography, cultural practices, and festive occasions. Serving as an ambassador, I explained the significance of Muslims fasting during Ramadan. Additionally, I shared cultural gifts with friends and prepared authentic Pakistani dishes for my host family and a broader audience. I was honored to then become the winner of IEW by my placement organization (AFS-USA).

Hammad taking selfie with Statue of Liberty with Host Dad and Mom.

Choosing one memorable experience is tough, but a recent trip to New York and Washington, D.C., with my host family stands out. The trip was my birthday gift and included visits to iconic landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, the White House, and the Lincoln Memorial. The experience was not just about the places but also highlighted the generosity and support of my host family, making it the most expensive yet cherished gift of my life. Life in the U.S. brought several surprising revelations, especially the incredible diversity and acceptance of different religions, genders, and ethnicities.

Hammad taking picture with Monument.

The YES experience meant the world to me, turning my dream of studying in the U.S. into a reality and allowing me to be a cultural ambassador. It broadened my perspective, fostering an appreciation for American culture, while the structured life instilled valuable skills. Winning the International Education Week competition marked a pinnacle in my journey, and a memorable trip with my host family was a life-long memory that I will always cherish. All these moments truly highlight the incredible diversity and acceptance in the U.S. that I have had the privilege to experience.