YES Programs



The Teacher That Changed My Life

Abdulaziz and another student stand with goggles on with a large fire sparked in front of them

By Abdulaziz Alkhalid (YES 2009–2010, Saudi Arabia, placed by AFS in Richmond, IN)

When I was younger, I loved science but couldn't stand chemistry. I had no clue why molecules grouped in specific configurations of compounds to make up the world around us. My teachers tried spoon feeding me the periodic table of elements, only for me to spit out the information when they weren’t looking. You could say that we had no “chemistry”.

But then, I happily embarked on my YES journey with a fresh mindset. On my first day of high school, I sat with my academic advisor and confessed my abysmal chemistry knowledge. She put me in an introductory chemistry class with a teacher that would change my world. In her class we worked with magical combinations of chemical potions that changed colors, fizzled, shape-shifted, and ignited in dazzling flashes! I was an ordinary student but, in her class, I felt like I was a wizard.

I was lucky to have had such a dedicated teacher who rekindled my interest in the extraordinary science of chemistry and influenced my career. After YES, I went on to become a chemical engineer and the seed of my success was planted by the passionate teachers I had during my exchange year. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities I had, and I appreciate every educator, mentor, tutor, and classmate that selflessly shared their knowledge with me. I try to encourage everyone to be active in the alumni community because it’s a wonderful opportunity to positively influence others.