Yazan’s world has gotten smaller as he has connected with people from across the globe.
By Krisha Loise Bruan (YES 2019-2020, Philippines, placed with AYUSA in Crystal River, FL)
If someone asked me who made my exchange year the best year of my life, I’d remember a lot of people who made it special, memorable, and fun. But, above all, I want to appreciate my host mom, Lauren Nanni.
During my exchange year, there were numerous times when I doubted myself. In those moments, my host mom would cheer me up. There was a time when I wanted to join a sport at my host school but didn’t have the confidence to do try-outs. I talked to her about it. She told me that I would make a new, good basketball player, and that inspired me. I spoke to the basketball coach and the next thing I knew, I was part of the team! I think that if I hadn’t talked to my host mom about it, I wouldn’t have the experience of joining that sport.
My host mom also helped me make friends. She introduced me to a lot of people. She helped me overcome my fear of going outside my comfort zone. She helped me overcome my shyness of talking to other people. She’s my cheerleader and supporter. She also taught me tons of things! She taught me lessons she wished she knew when she was my age. Now, I feel like a better, knowledgeable person. She also taught me how to cook. Truth be told, I’ve never cooked complicated meals in my entire life. Whenever she needed help, I appreciate that she asked for my help because that’s when I learned how to cook steak, how to make mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and many more. My host mom is my ultimate teacher.
We shared laughs and tears. We made fun of each other, made jokes, and talked about embarrassing moments of our life. After school, we would watch a movie together. When quarantine started, we watched movies and tv shows together all day! We shared lots of time. I remember every time we’d go outside to eat breakfast. We would sneak outside sometimes because we didn’t want to wake the whole family up! Sometimes, she’d let me know what her problems are, which made me feel comfortable telling her about mine.
I will never get tired telling other people how my exchange year went and who made it the best year of my life, a year full of learning. To my mom 9,000 miles away, thank you!
I want to thank the YES program and all the people behind it for letting me have another mom and for giving me another family in the U.S. Without it, I wouldn't be able to imagine myself meeting and having such great people in my life!