YES Programs



May YES Virtual Student Spotlight: Ashfiya Arzu

Ashfiya Headshot

When asked about Ashfiya Arzu (YES 2021-2022, Bangladesh, placed virtually in Lemoore, CA by World Link), her host mom Angela replied, “Have you ever met someone and they instantly inspire you with their passion to learn, grow and make the world brighter?” Ashfiya has done just that throughout her participation in the virtual program. When she learned that the in-person exchange would be cancelled, Ashfiya did not let it get her down. Instead, she came to a brainstorming session for the extended virtual program, full of fun activities and ideas.

Ashfiya enjoyed baking for the first time to participate in World Link’s Kindness Cookies Project. She baked almost 200 cookies using her host mom’s recipe. She shared her treats with her school’s janitorial staff and people experiencing homelessness in her local community. She said the project made her realize she has the capacity to bring about change. 

Host mom cooking Bangladeshi food
Ashfiya's host mom, Angela, trying a new recipe.

Outside of World Link activities, Ashfiya participated in the virtual McKendree University Model United Nations conference by writing a resolution on human trafficking. During the conference, she represented Nigeria in the General Assembly Committee. 

On top of all of this, Ashfiya has also been planning “Rewind 2020,” a virtual event for high school juniors and seniors to share the lessons learned from significant events in 2020 through art, dance, music, and writing. She served as the lead on the marketing and content creation team for YouVelop, the NGO—"formed by some teenagers who united in the hope of making the world a better place to live”—that hosted the event. 

Despite the 14-hour time difference between Bangladesh and her host family‘s home in Lemoore, CA, Ashfiya and her host family have built a strong bond by sharing their lives and cultures. Recently they cooked traditional meals together; Ashfiya shared a traditional Bangladeshi traditional dish, and Angela shared her mother’s enchilada sauce recipe. Ashfiya said, “Food has always been very special to me, and being able to share that with [my host mom] has been such a pleasure.”  

They are also teaching each other their languages. While Ashfiya teaches her host family Bangla, she is learning Spanish from them. They have discussed education, rural California, traditions, and beliefs. Angela recorded a recent trip to the grocery store for Ashfiya to see what shopping in America is like. They even sent her a sweet care package full of American treats and games.  

Angela shared, “Our family has the privilege of virtually hosting Ashfiya. She is absolutely amazing, always with a smile! I’ve been so impressed by her dedication to us, the program, studies, and her heart for people. I cannot wait to see where life takes her in the future.”