By: Leen Albraik (YES 2018 – 2019, Saudi Arabia, hosted by AFS in Pennsylvania)
I am so glad to be an exchange student this year. I learned and taught a lot. My experience is full of challenges and adventures. There is a huge difference between my country and here. I wanted to discover a lot, and here I am every day and every moment I discover a lot.
In return, I wanted people to discover who I was and from where. I was beyond honored to present 11 presentations in just two days. If I was able to do more in these two days, I would do them with pride and happiness.
I gave five presentations at Lebanon High School on Friday and six presentations at Ephrata High School on Monday. I presented my national anthem, geography, climate, traditional food, traditional dress, famous sites (including religious and historical sites), and our national day and its activities.
I was very happy to answer all the questions and hear the students' opinion about my dear country. One of my teachers said, "Thank you for your precious time, you were an honorable example of the country. We learned and benefited a lot. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet an exchange student from Saudi Arabia.”
I also had a dream come true when I entered a math competition in my host community. I grew up in a house of science and mathematics. My mother loved engineering and statistics, and I look at numbers as friends. I have solved many problems, and I have decided that I have to deal with a lot of problems on a larger scale. I had several experiences at winning in math competitions at school in Saudi Arabia levels, but I was hoping to get to the global level. I recently had the opportunity to do that by entering the International Youth Math Challenge.
As soon as I registered for the contest, questions were answered, and the answers were sent. I waited several weeks for them to reply until an email was sent saying, "Congratulations, you have qualified for the next round." After another set of questions, I qualified for the final round. When I found out, the amount of pride and happiness was indescribable.
Being qualified for an international competition and being ambassador to my country was my passion and especially in my journey as an exchange student. I really felt that I was an ambassador not only for my precious country, but for the youth, YES and AFS.
I write this article to prove that we are all ambassadors for our countries and for the program and for all young people. I left my dear homeland carrying hopes and dreams with me, and here I am striving to achieve them. The glint of my hope still shines within my eyes.