YES Programs



The Language Galaxy Quest

Isra And A Man In A National Park Service Uniform On A Dock

By Isra Ayayda (YES 2022-2023, Tunisia, placed by AFS-USA in Rives Junction, MI) 

After a year of transformational experiences in the United States, Isra found herself back in her hometown, relearning the familiarity of its streets and the comfort of her own bed. But something had changed within her during her exchange year, and she knew she could not go back to life as it was before.  

During her time as a YES student, Isra did over 200 hours of community service. She served as a national park interpretation volunteer with the River Raisin National Battlefield Park in Michigan and the Biscayne National Park in Florida. Through her volunteer work, Isra acquired insight and tools, which she knew were her duty to share with others. Those tools were the foundation of the ‘Language Galaxy Quest Workshop.’

Isra At The Front Of A Classroom Of People Holding The Tunisian Flag

Isra could not shake off the idea that language learning and acquisition could be so much more than just textbooks and grammar exercises. Her time in the U.S. showed her that language was a living entity, shaped by culture, creativity, and connection. The traditional classroom setting often felt rigid and uninspiring, and she was determined to change that for the kids in her community.  

The workshop aimed to provide kids with an engaging and interactive environment to learn and practice English and French. However, that was not the only goal. The Language Galaxy Quest was also about exploring the beauty of languages through creativity and real-world connections. Isra believes that languages are a gateway to understanding different cultures and perspectives, and she wants to instill that curiosity in young minds. 

The Language Galaxy Quest started at her kitchen table. Now, a group of five children gather at her kitchen table twice a week, eager to hear about which new activity, game, song or play they are performing this time. Isra uses music, art, and drama as integral parts of the learning journey, inspiring the kids to associate language learning with fun and creativity.  

Isra cannot help but reflect on her journey with the YES program, which has set her on this path. It gave her the opportunity to experience language in its natural context and to appreciate the nuances that textbooks can't capture. Isra is immensely grateful for the program and the opportunities it gave her. The program broadened her perspective on language learning and ignited her desire to share that perspective with others.