YES Programs



Yemeni YES Participant Discovers a Different Side of America

Maad Sharaf is a 17 year-old high school student from Aden, Republic of Yemen. In a recent Huffington Post article, Maad writes about how a year abroad in the United States has changed his life. He spent the 2008-09 school year in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.

Maad describes how the media has shaped perspectives in both countries, and challenged himself to help change those perspectives:
“When I came here I had no idea what people thought about the Republic of Yemen and my religion. I found myself the only Arab-Muslim in the entire community and learned that a lot of people had negative views about my culture. They couldn’t imagine that all Muslims were as nice as me. When I asked them why, they would reference the local media. It was then that I decided I was responsible for teaching the American people in my community who we (Muslims) are as real people, and showing them that we are not the bad people they see in the news. I felt like I was not only representing Yemen, but also the Middle East and all the Islamic countries in the world.”
“I thought America was all about huge buildings, exciting places, drunken people everywhere and going to war with every country. That was what we saw every day on television and in American movies. Unfortunately, we never saw the nice things about it or the very respectful people.”