This past January 13-16, a team of AFS staff and volunteers, along with representation from 3 of our 4 YES consortia hosting partners (ACES, AIFS, CIEE and PAX), welcomed our 46 semester Malaysian students, 2 of whom are Deaf students, into the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program. Of these 46 YES Malaysian students, 10 are hosted by PAX, 9 are hosted by AYA, 5 are hosted by ACES and the remaining 22 are currently being hosted by AFS-USA all over the United States.
AFS-Malaysia collaborates with the Malaysia Federation of the Deaf in order to recruit students for the YES Program. AFS staff in Malaysia worked closely with the Malaysia Federation of the Deaf (MFD) in order to develop and plan the 3rd annual ASL Camp. Past Deaf Alumni were able to collaborate with them to provide additional input and ideas for this camp and then join them to help facilitate along with AFS-MAS staff. As the YES Program strives to engage, recruit and support students with disabilities this is a big step forward and we know the ASL Camp will continue to grow, improve and provide additional preparation in order to better support our deaf participants.
Upon arrival to the US, the group dove into an eventful and lively 3 day orientation in the Washington, DC area. Highlights included a visit with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State, as well as a session led by Kimberly King of the Civilizations Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (CECF) on the topic of Culture and Religion in America.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank one AFS volunteer, Mary Ann Offer of the World Class Area Team in Wisconsin, who filled our “Lead Facilitator” volunteer role during the event. Mary Ann joined our team and took on key responsibilities throughout the various planning stages, organizing a volunteer training and info sessions. Mary Ann led all the orientation sessions and was the main contact for our 5 group leaders. Mary Ann Offer is also a member of the Sponsored Programs Advisory Group (SPAG).
Please join us in warmly welcoming the YES Malaysians to the US!