By Vyom Raisurana, Alumni, YES’10

“It’s hard to really say or share my ‘impact’ and talk about the YES program or AFS’s engagement at large in my life. It’s like someone asking me ‘what’s the impact of your life?’. It is true that after (almost) a decade, I can say that the YES program had a phenomenally transformational role to play in my life. We go on this program at an age when we are already battling the odds of surfacing up from childhood and gaining responsibility as an adult. To go to another country and manage things as an independent adult (but with ‘secret’ support) is the best possible experience one can have while growing up. In the process of exchange, you actually learn to understand and deal with the unanticipated situations of real life. The actual education that we recieve after going on an exchange program is to expect the unexpected and yet flourish!

Classrooms don’t teach that, they can never teach that. Reiterating, it’s hard, to sum up my growth as a person without the experience of the YES program being there. For the purpose of making the story tangible-I learned:

  •       how to appreciate what I have-gratitude
  •       how to make independent decisions and managing in case of failure
  •       being ‘comfortable in my own skin’-self-awareness
  •       that there is actually so much to learn and grow than I could possibly imagine!

This itself drew to the fact that I learned how to express my gratitude to the community. I grew up with this feeling (including my host community) that it can actually be very difficult to help or aid to the entire world, but you can always start from somewhere and volunteering helps to accomplish the expression of gratitude that one has. As I always feel and say-“It is never a bad day to do a good deed”.

I would recommend this program to anyone and everyone really- irrespective of where you are in life. There is never a perfect time to invest your money, energy, and resources to go on an exchange- and is less likely that there would be. If there is a slight hint or sliver of interest-GO FOR IT! Do not over think about it. It will be one of those decisions in your life that you would only thank yourself years later and say ‘I’m glad I did it’.

I do not feel I am aptly equipped to give a message to the Indian youth or anyone for that matter. If at all, what I would say is-Good or bad, it will all pass. Understand that nothing is permanent-life or situations. Thus, if good happens, do not “want” more of it or do not brag or boast about it. If bad happens, do not “push” for it to go away or accentuate the ‘pain’ by repeating how painful/hurting you are.

Learn to be- EQUANIMOUS in all situations!”