By Amna Shad (YES 2019-2020, Pakistan, placed with World Link in Castle Rock, CO)
There were so many great people who made my exchange year the best year of my life. I'll always remember how they made my exchange year special, unique, memorable, and fun.
My exchange year started and I was really excited for everything. I started going to school after a few days. Everything was fine, but then I would go to school and see people with their friends and I started missing my friends. I'd go to school and come back home, play with my host brothers, and the day would end. Things were fine because everything was new and interesting. But then everything changed when I met this adorable girl named Reese. We had a psychology class together. She was really nice and sweet. She asked me if I could come with her to lunch. We went to the cafeteria and there was a group of 8-9 people waving at me. The way they welcomed me into their friend group was the best feeling I've ever had. After that day, everything changed and I was more happy and confident. They made me feel at home in the U.S. and they never made me feel that I'm different than them.
They helped me come out of my comfort zone and made me try so many new things. We had to overcome our fears together. My friends changed my whole exchange experience. They are the most beautiful part of my exchange year. I've made so many friends over the years, but the ones I found in America showed me the real meaning of friendship. They were the true ambassadors of their country. They way they introduced me to all the American things was the best. They gave me a really good understanding of their culture. I remember going out on Halloween for trick or treat, making Christmas cookies, and cooking for thanksgiving. I have learned to cook so many American meals with them. One of my friends taught me how to sew. Not only this, but they've also learned a lot about Pakistan and want to visit me sometime soon. They made my experience the best. I believe that when you go for an exchange year, your host family plays a part in making you experience wonderful by making you try new things, and so do your friends.
I'm so thankful to my friends for being really supportive throughout this beautiful journey. They have proved that they're the best host friends ever. Thanks to my host family, friends, and everyone for making my experience the best and thanks to those who have been on my side this past year! I'll always think about all the times that " y'all helped me." I love you! I want to thank the YES Program for letting me have some adorable best friends and for giving me another family in the U.S. Without the YES program, I wouldn't be able to imagine myself meeting and having such great people in my life!