Yazan’s world has gotten smaller as he has connected with people from across the globe.
Below is a letter Mamadou wrote to his host family to thank them for all of their support this year!
By Mamadou Doucoure, YES 2016-2017, Mali, hosted by Aspect in Oakford, IL
Dear the Lynn’s: Mom, Dad, Tanner, Tucker (YES Abroad 2008-2009, Mali), Jared, Stephanie, and Grandpa
It is with so much love and joy that I am thanking you for accepting me in your house during my whole stay here and then making me a part of your lovely family. When I decided to come abroad, and spend an academic year in the U.S, one of the big thing[s] me and my family worried about was what kind of people would host [me]. But this [fear] went out of our hearts since we received your first email welcoming me in your house.
I remember that day, the twelfth of last August when you met me at Peoria International airport with so much love and determination, [brought] me to your house and made sure that everything was okay about my trip. You made my first week a blast, helping me to face life in that new community. Then you helped me throughout the following days and weeks, in being a good exchange student. You taught me stuff I have never done in my life or ignored. One of my great [struggles] was the [poor] English I was speaking [and] that nobody could understand what I was saying and I could not understand what people were talking about. You gave me time and tried to help me as much you can. You let me play soccer, in another high school different than the one I am attending. You then helped me meet new people, making new friends by doing so. [This] allowed me to improve my English with kids of my age. All season, you took a good pleasure in watching our games and encouraging us while we were sometimes doing terrible. You always supported us in our games even though sometimes you had [other] things to do.
Another one of my problems was the weather. You showed me the best way to adjust quickly in such short time. I am so grateful for all the stuff you have done for me, and you are doing for me. I can’t tell you how proud of you I am. I can’t even pay you back. But I can thank you all the time. If you look at my religious side, it is not everybody who is ready to host a Muslim in their house because of whatever. Thank you for trusting me and knowing better about this side of me. By hosting me, you also helped me to show people in your community that being a Muslim has nothing with [what] they heard in the news or wherever. You also took the risk to host a Muslim after knowing that he has some religious restrictions and you always bought something else for me when the one you [were] eating pork.
Again one more time, thank you, Lynn’s, for accepting me into your house, for always being there for me, and for taking care of me. I know I sometimes made you sad and I apologize for that. I would like to be the best exchange student but my mistakes took me away from that. But the most important thing you need to know is that I am thankful for you. I am thankful for the amazing experiences I am having, MAY GOD BLESS YOU.
*Originally published on Aspect's blog.