By Muriel Kadi Kargbo (YES 2020-2021, Sierra Leone, virtually placed with American Councils in Monmouth, IL)
This year's exchange program was different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. My experience so far with the virtual program has been great. I have had the opportunity to build relationships with my virtual host family, my local coordinator, my virtual YES peer, and also some American high school students.
Talking to my host mom virtually has been such a great experience. She introduced me to her cats and also some of her family members. She also told me that she can play the piano, and often offers music classes. My local coordinator has been connecting me to various American peers through Zoom. We have been sharing our cultures and traditions virtually with each other. Sharing my culture with others and learning about different cultures around the world is a life-changing experience for me.
I’ve learned a lot about American culture through the virtual program. During Thanksgiving, my host mom told me all about her Thanksgiving traditions. My local coordinator also sent me photos of her house decorated for Christmas — it was beautiful!
Throughout the program, I have also participated in a short skit about the underground railroad, applied for Virtual Program Student of the Month, and entered the YES/FLEX logo contest! I have learned so much during the virtual program and I know that there is more to come. I can finally say that I am a proud YES 2020-2021 Sierra Leonean finalist!