YES Programs



June YES Student of the Month

Wa'el with his host family at Prom

The YES program proudly announces Wa’el Mahmoud Subhi Al-Hawamdeh of Jordan, as the YES June Student of the Month. Wa'el was placed by Youth for Understanding in Shaker Heights, OH where he attended Shaker Heights High School.

Since his arrival in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Wa'el has left a Jordanian-sized mark on the community through his charming nature and community involvement. At school, Wa’el’s academic achievements have been remarkable. In addition to excelling in his regular courses, he has taken multiple college-level courses such as AP English and AP Chemistry. In Jordan, Wa’el is a world-class kickboxer. Wa’el had to suspend his kickboxing training while in Ohio, but he decided to join other sports such as cross country, wrestling, and crew (rowing). Even though these sports were completely new to him, he honed his mind, trained his body, and soon found himself having extreme success and fun in each sport. His dedication earned him multiple varsity letters.

Wael Crew Action shot

Wa’el was heavily involved in the local community, happily giving his time to the Cleveland Food Bank and Youth for Hunger. He is very passionate about fighting hunger and eliminating food insecurity around Northeast Ohio but also around the Middle East. He constantly acts as a positive ambassador for Jordan and never hesitates to give cultural presentations about his country. In the 15 presentations Wa’el delivered, one of his favorite ways to connect with the audience was to offer homemade Jordanian coffee and food.

Wael Senior Banner

During Ramadan, Wa’el treated his classmates to a Jordanian dinner at a restaurant. He inspired many of his classmates to learn more about his country, start planning trips to Jordan, and begin learning Arabic. Recently, he befriended a Japanese exchange student from another exchange program at his high school. For two weeks he acted as his tour guide at Shaker Heights High School, and hosted movie nights so that the student could meet his other friends and feel more included in the community.

When Wa’el returns home, he hopes to start an English conversation center and a rowing team when he goes back to Jordan. His local coordinator shared that Wa’el is a “once-in-a-generation talent, and [I] am extremely proud to have served as his Local Coordinator.”

Congratulations to Wa’el on his successful year as a YES student and being the June YES Student of the Month! We can’t wait to see all he will accomplish as an alumnus.