By Ahmed Saidi (YES 2019-2020, Tunisia, hosted by ACES in Toledo, OH)
When I left Tunisia and came to the United States as an YES exchange student, I didn’t know that I would have the most unique experience of my life. I didn’t know that I was going to meet some amazing people who really supported me and made this year wonderful for me. As soon as the school year started, I began my chase for opportunities. I have always tried to volunteer and help my community, and I also tried most of the sports and activities in my school. I played soccer, wrestling, volleyball, baseball and I also was a trumpet player in band. These activities helped me make friends, learn new skills and enjoy every single moment.
My soccer team played in the city championship, and later qualified in the State Playoffs, which was a historic moment for the school. Thanks to my host family, the Petersons, I learned a lot about American culture, and the value of a strong family bond. My host dad always helped me in soccer and other sports, so I learned how to play better. We also did drumming performances at the art museum and libraries during African American History Month, which was a cool experience for me. I’m also thankful for my host brothers because I really had so much fun with them, whether it was hanging out or at school activities. They definitely made my exchange year enjoyable!
Moreover, I made many friends from all over the world. The fact that I talked with people from different countries and backgrounds was so rewarding because I learned about their culture and I showed them my Tunisian culture. My experience overall was unforgettable thanks to my host family, American, and international friends. They helped me see the world differently, and they made me enjoy every single moment. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to live an American lifestyle that was so rewarding. I learned how to be a leader and how to initiate ideas and projects. I’m planning to take all my knowledge and help my country and community in Tunisia. It’s true that I’m not in the United States anymore, but my exchange year experience will definitely continue to improve me as a Tunisian YES alumnus!