YES Programs



Grateful For Exchange

Karam Wb Nov 2017

Photo: Karam presents on his home country of Palestine to a group of American students.

This article was originally published on the Academic Year in America (AYA) blog on November 15th, 2017. 

By: Karam Qaoud (YES 2017 - 2018, Gaza, hosted by AYA in Lees Summit, MO)

From a young age, I have always wanted to learn about other cultures and I believed that it’s going to be really nice, yet I was still young with limited thinking and small view about how the world is like. However, I had a mysterious feeling that always motivated me.

Years later, I joined the YES program and I am happy to see my dream is being achieved in front of my eyes with a bright future ahead. But beyond all of that comes the main reason why this program was first created, “exchange”.

In that short time I have lived in the United States, I learned more than i imagined. I had a unique chance to learn about the American culture while teaching them about mine. It’s really great to find people concerned about establishing a week that allows people to talk, express and share about their countries.

I myself didn’t expect that learning about other cultures is going to be as helpful as it actually is. I feel that I added lots of perspectives to my world which was limited to my own culture before.

I realized how small I was before I joined the YES program. The exchange experience allowed me to grow and bloom. Without exchange, I can’t even imagine how my life would look like. Exchange now is a very basic part of my mentality and personality.

Thanks to Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study program #KLYES, Academic Year in America (AYA) #WEAREAYA and whomever made this possible.

I also would like to invite others to break their normal, jump out of their comfort zone and to start trying new things. Because, believe me, you will not know, till you try.


What advice do you have for the 2019-2020 YES students? 

Check out this month's story prompt at and submit YOUR story for the new #KLYES cohort!

Yes Story Writing Challenge Logo 1