YES Programs



My Unforgettable Experience

Deni And His Teammates
Deni And His Prom Date

By Deni Nikolovski (YES 2021-22, North Macedonia, placed by ACES in Drummond, WI)

Having different experiences makes individuals unique from one another. The experience that made me who I am today was my YES exchange year when I traveled and lived in a small town thousands of miles from my home in Drummond, Wisconsin. If I had to choose one word to describe my experience, it would be "unforgettable." 

One of my unforgettable memories was playing sports, specifically basketball. I played basketball during my exchange in the U.S. because I was on a mission to step out of my comfort zone and try everything I could. Basketball was definitely on the list, and it was no mistake. From the exhausting and long practices to the stressful games, everything was like a dream, simply perfect. 

To many of you, the names Charity, Jace, Sammi, Roy, Jadon, and Arian might sound like regular names. Well, to me, these are the names of my long-distance family. If this small story of mine somehow ends up across their screens, I want to say thank you a million times. One of the most memorable activities I did during my stay in the U.S. happened during my first week there. I went canoeing with my host family, and I felt like I was home.

Deni And His Friend

Going on about memories like these can last forever. I have countless memories and relationships that I hope they stay with me throughout my whole life. But that is what life is really about. One of the YES program’s main goals is to create long-lasting relationships between people with vastly different lives, beliefs, and experiences. I think I managed to accomplish this goal.

This experience taught me how to better understand the world and allowed me to gain new perspectives. After my return home, I felt alive and a part of something bigger than myself. I encourage youth to try and experience an exchange at least once in their lifetime. However, just participating and learning for one's self is not enough. Knowledge means nothing if shared. So, yes, sometimes I do think to myself, what would happen if I did? However, now I ask myself, what would happen if I didn’t?