YES Programs



Representing Pakistan in the USA

YES student sitting at a governor's desk in the DC capitol. U.S. flag is hanging above her.

By Sabeen Haider (YES 2021-2022, Pakistan, placed by Ayusa in Phoenix, AZ)

Since becoming a YES finalist, my dream has been to represent my country in the U.S. Being an exchange student brings a huge responsibility since the people you meet get to know your country through you, but I am excited to take on that responsibility and be a citizen ambassador.

My host family is a wonderful family of five, and treats me as if I’m their own daughter! I instantly developed a close bond with my three host brothers. I help my host parents take care of my host brothers, teach them Urdu, and play games with them. I have also been cooking Pakistani food for my host family. We watch movies, swim, go out, work out, go hiking, and cook together. I also help my host mom organize the house, host sermons at our home, and take care of my host brothers.

Sabeen giving a cultural presentation about Pakistan at her host school

At school, I am not only enjoying academics but also receiving lots of questions about my country and my hijab (head covering). In September, I gave a presentation on Pakistan at school, and also hosted a cultural dinner at home with all of us dressed in traditional Pakistani clothes. I joined my school’s International Students Club & Cultural Club where I have been able to meet people from all over the world. I am working as an ambassador for my high school, where I support freshmen through their transition into high school. Despite being a Muslim, I go to church every Sunday with my family. In addition, I joined my high school’s Best Buddies club to build one-on-one friendships between students with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Sabeen at the State Senate posing with other exchange students

Outside of school, I have been learning about American art and history by visiting museums, fairs, and historical places. In October, I went to a lawyers’ chamber and got to learn more about the army and law. I also went to the State Capitol and the Senate Building. While there, I took part in a mock debate on a bill. Although I opposed the bill, the Senators personally thanked me for my confidence and opinions.

All of the experiences I’ve had so far in America have greatly helped my personal growth. I feel very special serving as a representative of my country, and I am very excited to see what will come next.