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This is Not a Goodbye

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By Esha Dhoeme (YES 2019-2020, Suriname, hosted by PAX in Fort Wayne, IN)

Before coming to the U.S., I was so nervous about being accepted as a person in my host community and school. I remember that I arrived on a Friday afternoon in my host city and that I was picked up by my host family at the airport. We then went home and just talked for a little bit. After that, my host dad took me to my school since he is the assistant band director there. After school, they had marching band practice, so I got to see that. I went into the band room with my dad and instantly I started making friends. I had a couple of kids come up to me and ask for my name and where I was from. So I started making new friends and learned a lot about them as they learned about me. During the year, I also got to spend time with some of my family members, and I was also nervous if they were going to accept me into their family. After meeting everyone, I realized that there was nothing to worry about because since day one they made me feel like part of the family. 

At my school, I joined sports teams and clubs and got to meet a lot of people in that way. I did swim, I was part of the marching band, I was part of the prom committee and, if it weren't for COVID-19, I would have been on the tennis team, too. But even though my year ended short and I didn't get to do everything I had hoped to do, I still had an amazing time with my family and friends. I am super grateful for everyone I met. I am grateful for my family for making me part of their family, as well as for my host school, teachers, and friends for making me feel welcomed and part of their life. Thank you to all the other exchange students I met and for teaching me about their countries and cultures. Hopefully I will see you all again someday. This is not a goodbye.

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How did your YES experience change you? What have you learned about yourself, the U.S. and the world?

Check out this month's story prompt at bit.ly/YESstorywriting and submit your story!