YES Programs



Students Connect Across Faiths


by Jody Axinn, Capitol area volunteer

On December 8, Bethesda’s 8th grade Comparative Religions classes from Congregation Beth El, donned head scarves out of respect before entering the Islamic Center of DC for a unique learning opportunity with Muslim AFS/YES high school exchange students. This teen-to-teen mobile class featured wudu, ritual washing before praying, prayer clothes, and the Qur’an. Separated by gender, AFS/YES exchange students Nate Natasia and Indra Mardiansyah from Indonesia demonstrated the body motions associated with each part of the Isha prayer, the last of the 5 daily prayers required by Islam. Heni and Mundhir Mohamed, from Kenya, offered commentary while the other students demonstrated the prayers.
Two weeks ago, Congregation Beth El saw “My Day as a Muslim”, introducing these students’ families, schools, homes and communities as they go through their 5 daily prayers. The AFS/YES students have spoken to over 200 people at Jewish synagogues since their arrival in August for the 09-10 school year.
The Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program, created in 2003 and sponsored by the US State Department, advances mutual understanding between the United States and countries with significant Muslim populations by bringing students, ages 15 to 17, to the United States to study at a high school and live with an American host family for up to one academic year. Exchange participants attend classes in an American high school.
If you are interested in hosting a YES student, you can submit a Host Family Interest Form.