YES Programs



Songs Bring Memories of Everything We’ve Been Through

Four students pose in front of the Lincoln memorial statue

By Douae Ennaqe (YES 2021-2022, Morocco, placed by CIEE in Denver, CO)

Creating an entire life in a year didn’t make sense to me until I went to the US for ten months as an exchange student. I was placed in Denver, Colorado, and it was a dream come true. I had a smile from the moment I got my placement, and that smile grew bigger each time I checked off a new day on the calendar knowing that the start of my year of new experiences was coming. 

 My exchange year was all about new discoveries and trying things for the first time. Everything started with boarding my first plane, going abroad for the first time, going to a school dance, and going to a stadium. Then there was Halloween and seeing all the spooky decorations, carving my pumpkin, trick or treating, and dressing up in a costume (I dressed up like Cleopatra). I took lots of trips around the US with my host parents, went bowling, volunteered, and had my first pet dog named Dexter - who always got the last bite of my peanut butter sandwich. Then of course there was celebrating Christmas and seeing all those joyful red and green decorations. All of these are just a few memories that were amazing new experiences.

The student and her two host parents pose for a picture at a dinner table

I spent Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania where my host parents introduced me to their family. I was so lucky to get to know Miss Elaine, my host grandmother. She is a kind and lovely woman, and her smile was captivating. I loved all her stories. One of the things people do during Thanksgiving is say what they are thankful for in their life.  I was thankful for having two families - one in Morocco and one in the US. My host mom, Amy, was thankful for having me, and now I'm thankful for the same reason she was.

Douae poses for a picture in the sunlight

Amy was without a doubt the best host mom an exchange student can have. She is a caring and thoughtful human who always made sure that everything was good for me. She and my host dad, Joe, thought about the small things, and my year was so much fun being with them! The trip we took to Las Vegas and California was one of the best trips of my life. We drove in a car and had a long time together, and eventually we memorized a funny radio commercial and started reciting it in funny situations. That was the beginning of our journey memorizing commercials and repeating them over and over again! I miss when Joe used to drive me to school in the morning. We would listen to Tupac on the radio.  I still look back nostalgically remembering the songs we sang and commercials we memorized and repeated.

It feels like just yesterday that I was on my own on my first plane to the US, not knowing what to expect but excited for the future. Now I'm back home with lots of fond memories, e-mails to answer, and tons of stories to share about my year of new discoveries and experiences. 

See Douae's skiing adventure below: