YES Programs



My Host Sisters

YES student, Ichrak, with her host sisters in traditional Tunisian attire

By Ichrak Abboud (YES 2021–2022, Tunisia, placed by IRIS in Fort Madison, IA)

Three days before my flight to the United States, I received my placement report. I was so excited to be placed with a lovely host family in Iowa that included a pair of 14-year-old twin sisters, Kaydey and Karley. I immediately reached out to Kaydey and Karley via social media and we’ve been talking to each other since. Kaydey and Karley were the first friends I made on the YES program!

We first met when I landed at the Des Moines International Airport, and I ran to hug them at the terminal. My host parents immediately thought we looked like triplets! We did not talk much in the car on the way home as I had fallen asleep after 48 hours of travel. It was a long journey for me and that day felt so unreal — it was like I was dreaming. We arrived at my host grandparents’ house and that was where we first talked. Karley and Kaydey showed me how to play golf for the first time. We then hung out and talked about everything while having pizza. They immediately made me feel at home. 

Ichrak fishing with her host sisters

I had one week at home before I went to band camp at school, so we three girls spent that week playing games and watching movies. We played card games and puzzles and we even crocheted and learned how to make friendship bracelets. We watched classic American movies and made a huge list of movies to watch during my exchange year. My entire host family has been super invested in helping me discover famous movies, especially Christmas ones. 

My favorite memories with my twin sisters are always when people mistake me as one of them. One time, when Karley was sick and did not go to school, other people thought I was her! We also went fishing at the lake near to where we live. It was a fun experience for me because it was my first time fishing and I caught a big bluegill! We also went trick or treating together on Halloween and I really enjoyed it.

I am so thankful for getting to know such nice people who make my experience so memorable! I really appreciate the opportunity to come to the United States and share these moments with my host family. 

Ichrak with her host sisters