By Attallah Al-Hawamdeh (YES 2019-2020, Jordan, hosted by AFS in West Hartford, CT)
Exchange students are all little ambassadors of their countries. We travel from all around the world to exchange cultures, and that what makes us different. In March, the Ambassador of Jordan, her excellency Dina Kawar, came to an event talking about change makers especially women. I was invited to meet her personally with one other Jordanian, and that made me feel important. It had a taste of home, and it also made me feel that what I am doing has tremendous impact on the people that I meet everyday.
Ambassador Kawar talked about challenges she faced, difficulties along the way, and encouraged us to stay strong and represent our country with pride! She also gave us a tip: “Speak gently, with a normal tone, never shout, because at the end your words are going to be heard.” This tip helped me understand differences. Her excellency then asked us about our background, life, challenges that we faced, and what brought us to the United States. With that I answered, “I came here to represent my country and to learn about this country. The biggest challenge for me was acknowledging how many people don’t know anything about Jordan, or didn’t even know that it existed.” I also said that I’m proud that at least my host family, their friends, fellow exchange students around me, and my school all know about Jordan and its significance.
Seeing a strong women from my country being the Ambassador in the United States, and the permanent representative of Jordan in the United Nations empowered me, and gave me a strong force to look forward on things that could happen or will happen along the way. Being a YES student is a hard but rewarding experience, it opened doors in my life and also in my mind. After staying in the USA for almost seven months, I can say that my personality, perspective, and motivation have all grown. Meeting new people, being featured in a newspaper, meeting the ambassador, visiting new states, and many more things would have never happened if I stayed at home with the same routine! I’m grateful to be a part of this program, and my placement organization AFS. Thank you for making this year the best year in my life!