YES Programs



Returning Back to My Host Community

YES Alumna Tilyan holding her certificate from the Global Village program.  Jpeg 1

By Tilyan Aslam (YES 2019-2020, Pakistan, placed by PAX in Indianapolis, IN) 

It’s crazy how your exchange year never leaves you. It stays with you always; the connections and friendships that you’ve made during your exchange year will always be a part of who you are and what you’re doing and what you will do in future. This summer, two years after my exchange year, I was selected for the Global Village program at Iacocca Institute at Lehigh University as a YES alumna and got the opportunity to be back in the U.S. again.

Tilyan's host family greets her at the airport wearing traditional Pakistani clothing and holding a sign reading "Welcome Back"  Jpeg 1

These six weeks of Global Village have been some of the most exhausting yet most rewarding weeks I’ve had since my exchange year. One thing that helped me make connections at Global Village was knowing that many were exchange students from a number of different countries around the world and many of them were YES alumni, something we all had in common!  A week after completing the Global Village program, I was reminded of the impact my YES exchange year had on me and continues to have on me. Through Global Village, I’ve continued to make new connections, to make more memories, and to learn how to become a better leader. After completing Global Village, I had the opportunity to reunite with my host family and community.

Tilyan and her teachers from her high school after reuniting two years later.  Jpeg 1

From all the tears of sadness I shed when saying goodbye to my fellow Global Villagers to all the tears I shed from seeing my host family again after two years, I am in awe of how YES has given me families and bonds that I will forever cherish and treasure. After coming back to Indiana and reuniting with my host family, high school teachers and my best friend, it feels like we were never apart. A part of us was with each other during these two years and it always will be, because your exchange year always stays with you and gives back to you in so many unexpected ways.

To all the current YES students, over the years I’ve realized that love, bonds and connections are what matter the most at the end of your exchange year. Most of the friendships I have today are either YES alumni or are because of the YES program. So, don’t hesitate to make friendships because these friendships may turn out to be lifelong bonds.