Say YES to studying abroad

October 30, 2019

Students often get bored with the daily routine of school. Nothing ever seems to change. It does not need to be this way. Education is not just about grades it’s about the experience and learning too. 

Students often do not know about educational experiences that can take them out of the mundane and put them in exciting new learning environments–even across the globe. Most students are willing to try something new but are not aware of opportunities around them.  

The U.S. Department of State’s Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad (YES Abroad) program has a solution to this problem by providing competitive merit-based scholarships for students.

YES Abroad offers an amazing opportunity for US citizens who are currently in high school. It helps students experience another country for the whole school year, during which they gain knowledge and experience lifestyles and cultures.

Almost anyone in high school can apply.

YES abroad scholarship participants must be a U.S. citizen and should 15-18.5 years of age at the start of the program. Should be enrolled in high school (including home school) at the time of application 

YES Abroad program goals are to give students the chance to represent their country, culture, and traditions as an American and breakdown stereotypes in their host communities through daily interactions. The exchange year develops skills in students to be leaders in the global community. It also advances global competitiveness and cross-cultural understanding of students. As a fully-funded program, students pay nothing besides what they may want to spend on personal items.

YES Abroad alumni Cricket Liebermann, who studied in Senegal, had good things to say about the program.

“I have realized that the impact of exchange begins to show more and more in the years after returning home. I see this in the people I meet, the connections I make, the interests I develop, and most importantly in my curiosity about other places, cultures, and people. This, I believe, is the true impact of exchange, and I’m not sure I will ever fully realize just how large of an impact my year in Senegal has made on my life.”

Participants serve as “youth ambassadors” of the United States, promoting mutual understanding by forming lasting relationships with their host families and communities. Approximately 65 American students participate in YES Abroad each year.

The YES Abroad scholarship program provides round-trip airfare, room, and board with a host family, emergency accident and sickness (health) coverage in the host country, and a modest monthly stipend to the participant.

Some common costs that are not covered by the YES Abroad program include costs associated with obtaining a valid U.S. passport and required medical examinations and immunizations

Before leaving for abroad, it is important for students to learn the language. The YES Abroad program covers initial language lessons, as coordinated in-country by the administering organization. While this will assist participants with the basics, participants should be prepared to make great efforts at learning the language of the host community. Learning the language as quickly as possible is important in working to meet the program goals of integrating into the host family, host community, and host school. 

However, YES abroad students can’t return home for any reason, such as weddings, graduations, family events, etc. They have to stay abroad in abroad for the whole academic year. Exceptions are only made for natural family(family back home) emergencies, which are decided by the administering organization in collaboration with the program sponsor, on a case-by-case basis

Unfortunately, students are not guaranteed the country of their choice. The selection of country for students is based on matching cultural characteristics of the YES Abroad host countries with a review of the written application and the findings of the selection evaluators. YES Abroad applicants should be open to any of the YES Abroad countries. YES Abroad always make better choices for their participants.

Emma H., as quoted on Yes Abroad’s website, stated after her stay in Bosnia, “Each day I grow some more and learn a little more. My language skills are also improving. Sometimes I will be standing with people who will be speaking Bosnian, and I am able to understand what one of them says, so I can quickly jump in and say something. Usually, it is just a one-liner, but I am getting there! It has definitely surprised one or two people. The reaction on their faces was priceless, and it even made my day once or twice. I am beyond happy to be in Sarajevo, I fell in love with this beautiful place more and more each day”.

Doing an exchange year is the best decision you will make in your life. You might not get the chance again. This is a wonderful opportunity for high school students. It’s a chance to learn, explore and experience at a young age. It’s a life-changing experience. 

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