YES Programs



Youth exchange program students tour Arc of Steuben

Four people watch a fifth person make something
This article appeared in The Corning Leader on November 14, 2011.
Written by Jeffery Smith.
Bath, N.Y. —

Foreign exchange students saw first-hand Monday how the Arc of Steuben serves adults and children with developmental or other disabilities.

Four Middle Eastern students attending Jasper-Troupsburg toured the Arc of Steuben center located at 1 Arc Way in Bath off Route 54. They watched as Arc clients performed jobs that included folding clothes and working on projects.

Aylin Aksoy, of Turkey; Ammara Anwar, of Pakistan; Khaled Molaned, of Egypt and Madj AlHassanieh, of Lebanon, are participating in the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program run by the U.S. State Dept. The program provides scholarships for high school students ages 15-17 from countries with large Muslim populations.

The students were impressed with their visit to Steuben, a non-profit organization.

“It’s been fantastic,” said Anwar. “When you see people with a disability doing the same thing that normal people do is fantastic. We should do the same for them in our own countries.”

Terri Rogers, local YES Program coordinator, said Arc of Steuben, founded in 1946, is a people-focused, family-friendly organization.

“It’s a great place,” said Rogers, whose brother Michael Martabano is served by the agency.
“The Arc is a well-organized and much-needed organization. I want to share that mission with the world.”

AlHassanieh said he enjoyed his experiences at the Arc of Steuben.

“It’s been a great time,” AlHassanieh said. “I’ve seen so many different things.”

To be selected by the YES Program, the students went through a rigorous selection process in their home countries, Rogers said. The process, which included essays, interviews, training, camps, took about a year to complete.

“These are some elite students,” said Rogers, who is a member of the host family of two of the children. “These kids can go back to their countries and make a change.”

While in the U.S., each student is required to do five hours of community service a month, visit American businesses, attend school, participate in activities and educate Americans about their cultures.

AlHassanieh said attending Jasper-Troupsburg has been challenging, but he has enjoyed his time in the U.S. Each student will complete the current school year at Jasper-Troupsburg and then return to their home country.

“It’s been a great time,” AlHassanieh said. “Everyone has been very nice.”

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Anwar said.