YES Programs



Leaving My Mark

Omar presentation on Petra to his classroom

By Omar Al-Rejjal (YES 2021–2022, Jordan, placed by CIEE in Dallas, TX)

Eleven years ago, my brother came back from his exchange year on the YES program, and I saw how this experience changed him for the better. Thanks to the YES program, my brother became a more responsible person. With my brother’s example in mind, I was determined to become an exchange student, too. After a roller coaster ride of emotions with the program’s cancellation in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I am finally living my dream.

A huge part of my experience is based on my fellow exchange peers, whom I met both in Jordan before the program began and in the United States through my placement organization, CIEE. I was very interested in learning more about my new friends’ cultures. It made me realize how the people selected to participate in these programs are all amazing people and that once you spend a day with them, you feel like you've known them for a lifetime.

collage of photos showing the various presentations that Omar gave for International Education Week

Before I left Jordan, I wondered about the differences between how American football is played in Jordan compared to the United States. The moment I arrived to my host community, I joined the football team and I discovered that it’s a whole new world. The passion you feel during the games is indescribable! I worked hard and I made the varsity team, which ended up making it to the playoffs for the first time in 100 years of the school’s history. After the football season ended, I joined the soccer team to prove myself even further. I really want to leave my mark on the school.

During International Education Week (IEW), I gave four presentations to 70 people, and I was surprised at how eager everyone was to embrace my culture. I felt happy to share and spark peoples’ curiosities about Jordan. The most memorable moments from IEW were probably displaying the Jordanian “shemagh,” a traditional scarf, and writing my classmates’ names in Arabic. Just like my brother, I hope my experience on the YES program will make a lasting impact on myself and those around me!