YES Programs



January YES Student of the Month: Ruth Acolatse

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The January YES Student of the Month, Ruth Acolatse from Ghana, has greeted each new experience in her program year with a smile on her face and an open heart. She reaches out to build friendships and takes advantage of all the opportunities available to her.

Scarcely had Ruth settled into her new home in DesMoines, IA, when she got to work as an ambassador for Ghana and the YES program. She gave a couple of presentations at her host family’s church, sang a solo at church, and began her regular volunteering job of serving community meals.   

In October, Ruth was selected to participate in the Global Youth Institute of the World Food Prize, presenting a paper on education as a tool to fight food insecurity in Ghana.  Only 200 young people are invited to participate, and Ruth was one of four IRIS students selected.  At the conference, Ruth won a social media contest and had her photo taken with Food Network celebrity and World Food Prize Alumnus, Lazarus Lynch.  Ruth was also selected to participate in the Iowa Student Global Leadership Conference held by the Stanley Foundation in February.

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Ruth with friends at the IRIS International Peace Walk

At Herbert Hoover High School, Ruth is active in journalism, jazz club, and several service clubs.  In November, her picture appeared on the front page of the Des Moines Register newspaper when she and classmates from her school’s Difference Makers club gave a presentation at a local elementary school to mark International Children's Day.  Despite a very busy schedule of extracurriculars, she is earning excellent grades at school. Ruth’s drive and her strong work ethic have impressed her teachers and her local coordinator, Sue Hunt.

Ruth has also excelled in the arts while in Iowa. She earned one of the lead roles in the Hoover High School musical, Cinderella, as the step-mother, despite having no prior experience in theater.  Brenda Goodall, Ruth’s host mother, said her exchange daughter was a natural on stage, and others remarked that she stole the show with her performance.  In the IRIS Photo Contest, Ruth’s entry in the Iowa Scenery category won first place. 

Ruth fits in wonderfully with her host family, according to her host mother. She often spends time with her younger host sister, who has a physical and intellectual disability, and who clearly loves having Ruth as a big sister.

Ruth’s placement organization, IRIS, commends the YES student for her enthusiasm and commitment as an ambassador.

Congratulations, Ruth!


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