By Igor Stojkov (YES 2019-2020, North Macedonia, placed with Greenheart Exchange in Northwood, NH)
My name is Igor Stojkov and I am a recently returned YES alumni. I spent my YES year up north in New Hampshire. It was cold and snowy, which was perfect for me as I love that type of climate. My experience with the YES program, from the application to returning from the U.S., and now being a part of the alumni activities in North Macedonia, has been the most exciting period in my life. The moment when I was notified that I was a YES finalist and would be traveling to the U.S. was my favorite part of it all. How cool it was to be waiting to be informed whether I was going to be placed in hot Florida, or somewhere in Hawaii, or maybe in Alaska, or maybe in rural Iowa? Once accepted, you can be placed in any of the 50 States in the U.S.!
I got New Hampshire. I was close to Boston, and I even got the opportunity to enjoy a Boston Celtics game in person. My entire year was full of many amazing opportunities. I got out of my comfort zone and learned how to ski. My host community was full of lakes, and I spent a lot of time on a boat and swimming. Each state has its own advantages — one of the advantages of New Hampshire is that it's the first state to vote in the Primaries. This gave me the chance to meet one of the Presidential nominees for the upcoming 2020 Presidential elections. These experiences I had, and many others, are what makes the YES experience memorable.
The best part about the program is attending American high school. In my case, I was placed in a small school in a small town. I was one of the only kids that had a different background than everyone else, so many of the kids wanted to learn more about my story. I was accepted very fast and I made tons of friends. I didn't miss any chance to have the full American high school experience. I attended every basketball or volleyball game that was played in the school. I attended every dance, and was even voted Homecoming King for the dance!
It is hard to put into words how impactful and meaningful the YES Program is; it is something that cannot be told and must be experienced. Therefore, I encourage everyone who is eligible to apply for the YES Program. It will change your life!