By Vatsal Mehta, Hosted in USA

“My dream, of having a new family halfway across the world and going to high school abroad, took the shape of reality when I got selected for this wonderful Youth Exchange and Study program sponsored by US Department of State. 

Today, I believe and feel myself as an important part of my host family and community. My experience with my host family is one of the many best parts of my exchange year so far. I would like to thank YES program and my placement organization AFS-USA and hard work of AFS India for giving me a second mom, dad and a brother. The key role my family has played in my exchange year is by giving my host brother from Senegal and me their time and attention for all the special moments that we’ve had together such as cooking together, playing board games, going for a blissful walk, going places together, having fun time and so many more! 

With host family

My family also helps me become a better and a responsible person by teaching some important leadership skills and life lessons. I am so glad to have such an awesome family! The next significant part of my exchange has been giving back to my community through volunteering. I’ve enjoyed doing community service very much. The best part of volunteering is that you help people and get happiness in return. And as it is said ‘ You live for yourself when you live for others’. The best service activity for me was helping the people at Bloomingdale’s (a neighborhood in DC) block party and promoting YES and AFS USA (my placement organization). During the very beginning of my exchange year, I had a Civic-Minded experience of meeting a Congresswoman serving for North Carolina at the Capitol Hill because of my participation in Youth cultural ambassador program by the American Turkish Association of Washington DC. It too became one of the best experiences of my year as it provided an opportunity to observe how political leaders develop their leadership skills and how it influences their career. 

I absolutely believe that exchange program like YES provide students with massive self development and because of that today I’ve been able to accomplish this achievement of so many memorable and wonderful experience. For instance, ice skating, bowling and exploring America with friends. Today, because of my exposure to such experiences and leadership skills I’m sure it would lead me to several other opportunities to develop myself into my best self for future. This would not have been possible without the support of all of you at US Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, AFS India, AFS USA and whoever is reading this. I would like to thank you all for your excellent support to the sponsored programs and I also hope that US Department of State would continue to provide such great experiences to the future students as well. Thank you very much!”