YES Programs



First Experiences in My Host Community

Male teen with two host family members holding welcome signs

By Yazan Odetallah (YES 2022-2023, Jordan, placed by AFS in Rockville, MD) 

Hi, This is Yazan, an exchange student from Jordan, and I am placed in Rockville, Maryland.  This story is about my first week in my host community. It all started when my host parents, Max and Hillary, came to pick me up from the DC Orientation. You know when you have that feeling of butterflies in your stomach? I had that feeling ten times more potent than usual; I was excited and nervous at the same time. When I first saw them, my heart started pounding with happiness.

We went to the van, and they showed me around the neighborhood and the places around the area. When we got home, I gave them the things that I had brought them from Jordan: salt and mud from the Dead Sea, magnets to put on the fridge, and a lot of other things. Then I met my host siblings, Leo and Diana, as they came back from school. They are indeed the cutest kids ever. They made me the most beautiful drawings to welcome me to my new home.

The most exciting part was meeting the exchange students staying with my host family's friends Aishwarya from India, Kwelda from Tanzania, and Moeno from Japan. We had dinner together, played games, and had so much fun. I eventually met even more exchange students, and we are now the best of friends. We started hanging out more often, and we already got so close. I genuinely appreciate every single one of them.

It only gets better as I experience new things every day, learn from these experiences, and meet new people. After only a month into the YES program, I already knew this is the best thing that has ever happened to me!

 Diverse group of teens smiling and posing for a photo