By Kaivalya Tetali, YES 2006 Alumni
“I left for my YES Program in August 2006 with wonderful feeling of enthusiasm and delight of being selected by the YES program. My journey began — A journey of acceptance and at the same time finding delight, amusement and joy in diversity. The diversity I experienced during my Orientation just kept growing throughout my stay in the US. I learnt to write Egyptian letters, we danced and it was fun but we soon had to depart. It was like going to a theme park. Taking an adventure ride, getting the adrenaline high, finishing it just to go to another ride to get your adrenaline going. So all of us were engaged in absorbing the intra-cultural diversity.
In Michigan, everyone was friendly, the whole town was like a family. People in the town wave at each other and smile even if they don’t know each other that well. Everyone was eager to know who I was and I was willing to make friends. The church was a great experience as well. I used to love the stories from the bible and Pastor Thorn never failed to answer all my questions. I celebrated Easter and it was a fun-packed experience. My host father gave me the biggest chocolate bunny and some more emotional memories that’ll remain attached to it forever. I was truly a part of the family and my race, ethnicity, color, caste or creed truly didn’t matter. It was time for Christmas, my first real Christmas! My host family got a Christmas bulb with my name on it and it is still hung on the tree each year.
Once in school, I was asked to write an essay in the English class regarding a memory. I had scored the highest, I realized how much I had improved on language and drafting. The same skill landed me, my first job in drafting. On my last day, there was an early celebration of my birthday, which was amazing. I realized how much I had grown up. I had learned how to give, receive and trust. I had a new edge to me, I was more confident and was willing to stand up for what was right. The stay was the most beautiful part of my life, all because I said “yes” to give it a second chance, I put faith in the organization and because my host family offered me to be a part of their family. Even if this story is 10 years old, the things I learned are even truer today and beyond.”