YES Abroad

[click image for link to YES Abroad website]

YES Abroad is a study abroad program which was started after September 11, 2001.  It began in 2002 by sponsoring kids from countries with a significant Muslim population to come to the USA and live with a host family while attending a local high school.  It’s designed to promote understanding, acceptance and respect of Islam in the United States.  The U.S. State Department provides participants with a full scholarship and covers nearly all costs of the program, of living costs, and of incidental expenses.  It ensures that anyone, no matter their income level, has the opportunity to qualify for and participate in this program.  They even work to accommodate students with disabilities.

Three years ago, the program was expanded to send kids from the U.S.A. to countries with a large Muslim population.  There are currently 11 countries which students are going to: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, South Africa, Thailand, Tunisia and Turkey.  South Africa and Tunisia were both added for next year!  (Egypt and Mali were removed last year in light of safety concerns for students.  They are tentatively on the list for 2013-2014, but it’s not a guarantee.)

I would encourage you to consider this program, either as a host family or as an exchange student.  It’s not for everyone, and it takes an incredible amount of commitment, optimism and openness to change.  However, every experience I’ve had has helped me grow as a person.

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