By Bashar Hamadna (YES 2012–2013, West Bank, hosted by American Councils in Bloomer, WI)
August 22, 2012 was the day I set foot on the United States for the first time. I was 15 years old, and feeling a little confused to be honest about how I would be a good representation of my family, and the West Bank. I was placed in a little town in Wisconsin, called Bloomer, and it felt so different from my home town in Jericho. Bloomer had a small population that mostly lived in the country, which was not even close to what I saw on TV about “typical American life.”
I started studying at Bloomer High School, and focused on one goal: “how can this experience help me to become a doctor?” High school was also so different from back home because I was able to choose my own classes that suited my interests such as Advanced Biology, Math, Physics, Chemistry, American History and photography, and English. I knew that these subjects would provide me with a foundation in basic medical science. The classes were a little intense, but I was able to manage my time and overcome the difficulties.
In addition to studies, I participated in track and cross country, and I was also in the Bloomer bowling team - even though it was my first time ever bowling! I knew that my time in the United States was limited, and so I wanted to use my time wisely to gain more experience to help me become the man I always wanted to be. With the help of the YES program, I got to travel and meet senators. I even got the chance to go to Washington D.C. and do a workshop with other exchange students from around the world.
I think that I did a good job preparing myself for the next level, and to try to make the world a better place by becoming a doctor. I grew a lot after my experience in the United States, I became more open minded, learned how to manage my time, and how to touch people lives and encourage them. I became the man I always dreamt to be.
Now I’m 23 years old, and in my last year of my medical school at University of Havana in Cuba, set to graduate in July 2021. I still carry the dream to make the world a better place, and filled with ideas to make medical care free for everyone, because I consider that health to be a human right. I also work as a student aid, give lectures to medical students in basic science subjects, and I am also an assistant doctor. I’ve been able to travel around Cuba to do medical conferences on how to make healthcare better around the world.
I am currently working at an isolation center in Havana to fight the coronavirus. My responsibilities include monitoring patients and scanning asymptomatic suspected patients. I am also taking the necessary precautions to protect myself and to protect the Cuban population. I know that I’m doing great, but I know I should work on myself more so I can change the world, and to upgrade the health system back home in the West Bank.