YES Programs



Welcoming back the newest group of alumni in Suriname

A Group Of Young People Holding Up The Flag For Suriname

By Cheraine Amelo (YES 2018-2019, Suriname, placed by PAX in Bluffton, IN)

As the school year came to an end in May, and the exchange year in June, it was time to welcome back our students--or better yet, alumni--to Suriname. 

They spent 10 beautiful months in the United States learning about American culture and teaching Americans about the Surinamese culture. I had the opportunity to be the flight leader this year, and it made this a full circle experience for me, as I had worked with these students even before they were selected as finalists. To be the first person to see how much they’ve grown and how much they’ve achieved has been one of the many core memories that the YES program has given me.

What better way to learn about the new alumni's growth, than to read about what they have to say.

"Traveling and studying abroad had always been a dream of mine. My exchange year has taught me a lot of stuff and how to see things from a different point of view. The YES program gave me a lot of opportunities to do things I had never done before. I will forever be thankful to all the friendships I made and for them being a part of my year. My exchange year in the United States was a dream come true and it was such a privilege to learn about American culture, just as it was for me to teach them about mine."

- Josephine Ronoastro, YES ’23 

"I had the best 10 months of my life in America. Living in America has helped me grow so much as a person. It taught me the importance of communication, the importance of responsibility, and most importantly the importance of self-respect. With confidence I can say that I have improved myself. I am a completely different person now compared to 10 months ago. This couldn't have happened if it wasn't for the YES program. 

One advice I would like to give to future exchange students is, 'fake it till you make it.' This is the advice that has helped me throughout my exchange year, and I can guarantee you that It will also help you."

- Roepesh Sohan, YES ’23

Four Young People Stand In Front Of The U S  Capitol Building Holding The Flag For Suriname

"My exchange year in the U.S. was incredibly memorable. During my year, I had so many firsts and so many experiences that I got to bring home as memories. All of the amazing people I met, including my host family and friends, have each taught me a different thing. Not only did I get to make new connections, but I also improved in my English speaking skills, and I learned who I am as a person. I have definitely become more independent, I’ve learned how to understand people better, and I have a whole different perspective of how the world works outside my home country. Everyone is different and unique in their own way, but we as human beings just have to open our eyes and accept it. 

As advice, I would like to share that it’s okay to step out of your comfort zone to try something new. Even with fear, stay open-minded in every situation possible, try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes if things don’t go the way you want, and you only live once."

- Roxann Tonawi, YES ’23

"My exchange year has changed me so much in life. It taught me to be a better person and to never judge a book by its cover. One of my highlights would be going to the state robotics competition. For people who didn't know anything about robotics, I'm proud of my group. Throughout this year I've made lifelong relationships. Now I can say that I have family and friends all around the world. To quote Henry Miller, 'one’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.'"

- Shreya Jokhoe, YES ’23

"Saying yes to YES has taught me that my heritage is very important, and that I have to be myself no matter where I am. At the beginning of my YES year, I thought I’d have to live a completely different life and fully adapt to the new environment I was in. That was far from the truth. Adapting and learning doesn’t mean losing your true identity. I learned how to fully express myself and change for the better, while also learning from others. I knew I had to make strong bonds, but never thought it would be this strong. It felt as if I had lived in my host town for my whole life, and like I had known every one of my friends for my whole life. I can truly say that I found a second home and family. I am truly grateful. 

I advise other exchange students to be very open minded and accepting, while also being themselves and not forgetting their morals. Being open minded and accepting has made people really consider listening to me, because I listened to them without any judgment."

- Shane Blijer YES’23 

Six Young People Pose Smiling Wearing Yes Shirts