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Hafsa with her youth group

By Hafsa Kamran (YES 2018-2019, Pakistan, hosted by CIEE in Matthews, NC)

Just after some time when I came here, my host parents took me to the church for the first time. There I met a lady who told me about this organization called "Young Life". She told me that if I want more opportunities to socialize and make friends then I should attend their club meetings. So I went to their club meeting to see how it is. 

When I first entered there I saw some people who also go to my school and whom I've met at some classes. I went to them and and greeted them and in return I got a big hug from the other students over there. They were really nice to me and asked a lot of questions about how I came over here. When I came inside the barn (where the club meeting is held), everyone gathered and the club leaders played guitar and we sang songs. Then, we played some games with everyone. Then we prayed before having dinner. After that day I decided that this club was definitely a great way to make friends and socialize. 

Hafsa with friends

Every Monday, we meet at the club. Some weeks later, our leaders announced that we are going to a fall weekend retreat. It was my first time to go to any retreat camp as I've never been to any. All of the people in our club which are probably more than a 100 were planning to go to this weekend and telling me the stories of how it is. We left at Friday night for this weekend. We rode a bus to the camp's location. Upon reaching there, I got to know that it was not just our school over there but five other schools too. 

When first we got there, they asked us to give our phones to them so that we can actually have a great time. After spending some time playing games we went to our usual club meetings which by the way are really fun. Next we went to our assigned cabins. Fortunately I was with my group of friends so I enjoyed cabin time.

Next day, it was raining so we played "capture the flag" in the muddy grass and then played with color powder. It was so amazing to see all the colors in the sky and everyone fully drenched in rain and colors. It was so fun to be with friends and talking, playing, singing songs and all of that fun stuff. I was kind of happy about them taking our phones because we had real fun with each other. I was surprised by the how welcoming these people are and how many things they do to just have fun.

Hafsa playing games

The next day, we came back. While on the bus, I was thinking about my journey of being an exchange year till now and this was probably the best thing I ever experienced. Plus, I was also thinking about how we can bring this whole idea of socializing to our countries too. I'm really fortunate that I got to spend this weekend as happy and joyful I as could. It was probably the best memory I'll carry with me back home. 


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