YES Programs



Me but 2.0

Madrigals Christmas Musical

By Medina Bilalli (YES 2019-2020, Kosovo, hosted by Aspect Foundation in Canton, IL)

Hf Christmas Day
Medina and her host family on Christmas Day

When I first applied to be part of the YES community, I didn’t think that I would get very attached to my host family and my host country friends. I never thought that I would see the world with different eyes, and I didn’t expect to have as many stories as I have now to share.

Medina While On Program

It hasn’t been very long since I’ve come back from the U.S., and I am still trying to get better from the reverse culture shock that has hit me. I can definitely say that I have become more mature, more patient, more empathetic, more punctual, and way more creative and more social than I have ever been before. The U.S has taught me to be a better person and value family relationships more, whether it’s my host family or my biological family. 

I also have become more patriotic, and I value diverse culture more than I did before. The importance of diverse culture, mental health, education, youth and human rights are some of the things that I have learned while in the U.S. I have also learned that there is a possibility for us to change the world for the better if we have the will to do so. Of course it can’t happen with the help of one person only, but there are more people out there that are willing to give it a try.

Blue Stocking Fall Play
In the fall play, "Blue Stocking"

In Kosovo, I can see some issues that are not getting the attention or the treatment that they deserve; these might be some political issues or just simple everyday problems that the population of my country are tired of. I hope that in the very near future I will be able to help make new projects where people will be able to be their true selves and activities where different nationalities can have fun together, but most importantly make activities that will help remove the barrier of stigma.

It’s hard to find words to describe the amazing year I had in the U.S., and it makes me sad to think that it had to end early because of the pandemic, but all that was just part of the experience and it just made it more special. It wasn’t better, it wasn’t worse, it was just different.

With Friends
Medina with friends