YES Programs



The Rhythm of Exchange: The Power of Music in My Exchange Journey

Picture of Naveen at the Festival with other students.

By Naveen Raj (YES 2023-2024, Pakistan, placed by PAX in Avon, IN)

Before arriving in the United States, I sought opportunities to engage with my host community. The "Hendricks Community International Festival" caught my attention as an ideal platform to represent my home country. Upon my arrival, I was thrilled to discover that this festival was part of our program's enhancement activities, and I collaborated with a fellow exchange student, Habib Toor, to enhance our participation.

Setting up our country's booth early on the festival day, we worked diligently to create a captivating representation of our culture, from traditional attire to showcasing our rich heritage. As we explored the event, we stumbled upon international performances on the main stage. Spontaneously, we decided to proudly present Pakistan by performing the famous "Bhangra" dance and waving our national flag. We were blown away by the audience's enthusiasm for our spontaneous performance.

Picture of Naveen next to his friend Habib.

Our decision to showcase Pakistan on the main stage, alongside our representation at the booths, was an immense success. We had the honor of waving the Pakistani flag high and sharing interesting facts about our country. The festival, as a whole, was a resounding triumph, offering me a chance to learn about different countries and foster a deeper understanding of our global community.

Another incredible opportunity that I was able to experience was attending the Murat Theatre to see a live performance. The Murat Theatre was an exceptional setting, where the atmosphere buzzed with infectious energy. The lively crowd, combined with the impressive performances, created an unforgettable experience. American country music exceeded my expectations in every way. The featured artist at the concert, Jake Owens, was entirely unfamiliar to me prior to that evening, but now I'm a devoted fan. Jake Owens' voice, accompanied by the enchanting guitar melodies, struck a chord with me. What really set his performance apart was his genuine connection with the audience. He made us feel like valued participants in his musical journey by expressing his heartfelt gratitude for our presence. The thunderous applause and cheers that followed each song were a testament to his artistry.

This experience left an indelible mark on me, and I wholeheartedly recommend that other exchange students seize the opportunity to attend an American country music concert during their exchange year. It's not just about music; it's an immersion into American culture. This concert has become a treasured memory that I will carry with me always, a testament to the unifying power of music and cultural exchange.