By Doga Huner (YES 2019-20, Turkey, hosted with World Link in Des Moines, IA)
This is my 5th month in Des Moines, Iowa and I am enjoying it a lot. On my way to the USA, I said to myself, “The YES program said ‘yes’ for your application and gave you this unique opportunity to explore new cultures and represent your country. Now It will be your turn to say ‘yes’ to try new things and get out of your comfort zone.”
During these 5 months, I said YES to every opportunity that knocked on my door, and whenever I was undecided whether to try something new, I remembered my promise to myself. That decision made me a more active member of my community and school. At the beginning of the semester I started to take art class thinking that I am not capable to draw. However, with the help of my art teacher and class, I gained a new skill and I am so grateful for that.
One of the things that impresses me about the USA is school bands and the importance of them. Southeast Polk High School has an amazing music program, and most of my band friends play multiple instruments. I’m playing flute for 2 years while everybody in my school has played their instrument since 5th grade. This difference scared me the first time, but I joined the Pep Band anyway! I gained a lot of friends there who are super helpful and supportive all the time. Seeing those people around me gave me the inspiration to learn another instrument. As a New Year resolution, I’m trying to learn saxophone by myself and play at Symphonic band next semester.
I’ve also had the opportunity to gain new skills through choosing my classes. I am learning French and coding this year in addition to my Calculus, History and English classes. I’m an active member of multiple school clubs such as Interact Club, Key Club, and French Club. Also, I’m the Secretary of Skills for the USA club.
In addition to school, I said “yes” to helping address two important issues in my community. The first issue was homelessness. With my placement organization, World Link, we participated in the Iowa Homeless Youth Center’s fundraiser event, called Reggie’s Sleepout. We slept outside and raised funds through donations. The story behind this event affected me a lot and I tried my best to fundraise. With the support of my host family, I raised over $1000 and became one of the top fundraisers. Also, I led a food drive at my school and volunteered at the Food Bank Iowa and Meals from the Heartland multiple times.
I am so happy to try new things in the USA and gain new strengths to improve myself and my community.