YES Programs



The Joy of Being Together

Mahmoud and his host family

By Mahmoud Zromli (YES 2014-2015, Libya, placed by PAX in Camby, IN)

When I arrived in the U.S. for my exchange year, I had big plans for all the adventures I wanted to embark on. Unfortunately, those plans were derailed early on when I suffered an injury, preventing me from participating in sports and physical activities. It was a disappointing setback, but what made my exchange year truly special was the unwavering support and love from my host family.

Mahmoud and friends playing Risk

Instead of dwelling on what I couldn't do, my host family made every effort to ensure that I felt included and cherished. We spent countless hours at home, playing board games, sharing stories, and creating lasting memories. I discovered the joy of friendly competition and the laughter that echoed through our living room as we battled it out over a game of Monopoly or challenged each other in a game of Risk.

Those evenings of board games are some of my most cherished moments from my exchange year. It wasn't about the grand adventures or the elaborate outings; it was about the simple joy of being together, embracing the warmth and comfort of our shared home. Through those games, we bonded, we shared our triumphs and defeats, and we formed unbreakable connections.

My host family's unwavering support extended beyond our board game nights. They introduced me to their extended family and neighbors, who quickly became my family away from home. We attended community events and baseball games, and celebrated holidays together. Through these experiences, I gained a deeper appreciation for the American culture and the values of community and togetherness.

Although my injury prevented me from pursuing certain activities, it opened doors to different experiences that I may not have discovered otherwise. It taught me the importance of resilience and adaptability, and it reminded me that the true essence of any journey lies in the relationships we forge along the way.

As my exchange year ended, I realized that it was my host family's love and support that made it extraordinary. They embraced me as one of their own, and together, we created a tapestry of memories that will forever hold a special place in my heart. I am eternally grateful for the board games, the laughter, and the love that defined my exchange year, reminding me that the true beauty of any experience lies in the connections we form with the people who touch our lives.