By Christina Tamba (YES 2022-2023, Liberia, placed by AFS-USA in Grove City, OH)
My journey as an exchange student began on August 10th when I arrived at the Columbus airport and met my host parents. They were waiting for me with a laminated paper saying “Welcome Christina Tamba,” they were holding the Liberian and American flag. I started school on August 24th at the Grove City Christian school. My school has a tradition called “seniors handprints night”. All the seniors in the school put their handprints on the wall and I was honored to be part of that fantastic event. I saw that as a legacy for me because I know that I have left something behind that people can see and remember me as an exchange student.
I am blessed to have host parents that care for me and put my needs first. My host family has been my number one supporter. I started piano lessons even though I have not played before but they had confidence in me and encouraged me to play. My host parents have tried to make my exchange year wonderful. We have worked with an organization at our church to give away food to homeless people. My host parents have shown me the real definition of love and I am happy to be their host daughter. They have taken me and my double placement sibling to Michigan,Arizona to see the Grand Canyon, Nevada to see the Hoover Dam, and Las Vegas. We also spent our Thanksgiving in South Dakota, and saw Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse.
Prior to my departure, I had two fears: one was making friends and the other was playing sports because I had never played sports before. Once I came to the U.S everything changed. Students in my class were excited to meet me. I was fortunate to meet a girl who now I see as a sister. She has helped me and taken me to some important occasions with her family.
I am currently on the Grove City Christian School junior varsity girls basketball team. The first week of practice was challenging because I had not played basketball before but my coaches were helpful and very encouraging. I have improved all thanks to my host parents for giving me tips on how to become a better basketball player. The basketball team has made me more engaged with other students and created new relationships with teammates and coaches. I am also part of this club called the Interact Club.This club is about reaching out to people who are in need. We volunteer at a child center, helping kids to do their assignments and do crafts with them.
My exchange year was one of the best years in my life. I have tried new things and I have educated lots of people about my culture. I enjoyed International Education Week because I was able to give five different official presentations about my country's history and culture. This exchange year has made me more passionate about improving student leadership in my country. Being a YES student for me is more than just teaching my culture to Americans, it’s about getting ideas on things that can help the next generation in my country positively.