By: Sarah Koubi (YES 2018 – 2019, Morocco, hosted by AYA in Chino Valley, AZ)
Many thanks to the YES program that made me live the life I have always dreamed of. I am placed in Chino Valley, Arizona, a small little town that became my best place in the world. It is unbelievable how a place can steal your heart and how strangers you have never met can become your second family.
For my school, the best thing that ever happened to me is joining soccer. I had never played organized soccer before, and I was so nervous about it. When I first came in, all the soccer girls were waiting for me and were so excited to meet me. In the very beginning I did really bad but everyone was encouraging and motivating me. I felt already home, being surrounded by such amazing friends is all I needed. I thought they would laugh at me and make fun of me because I am different but they proved me wrong. They were there for me every time I needed them. And I am beyond blessed to meet them all.
One of my unforgettable moments in Senior night at our last home game. When they announced my name, saying that I am an exchange student from Morocco, and my host parents escorted me, I will never forget the feeling I had when everyone was shouting my name and clapping for me. I was over the moon. The soccer girls made baskets full of gifts to all the seniors, and knowing that I will be leaving at the end of the year, they gave me a memories book. I cried my eyes out reading what every girl wrote me, thanking me for being there and for letting them know more about my country.
Having all these blessings in my life does not stop me from thinking about other people and serving the community. There are countless opportunities for volunteering, and I do my best not to miss any of them. I volunteered so many times in my high school and helped other people. Putting a smile on their faces warmed my heart. Listening to their stories, laughing with them, helping them do whatever they wanted me to do, gave me chills. It is amazing how simple help can change people's lives. And most importantly, can change you to be a better happier person and can change your purpose in life.
That is exactly why I decided to do my own fundraising for kids. I am doing the best that I can to reach my goal and I cannot wait to make it true. This is just the beginning, and my work will never stop, not only in the United States but wherever I go. The YES program made me feel proud of what a seventeen years old is capable of, and now it is my turn to make Morocco proud of me.
I am looking forward to realizing more dreams!