Yemeni YES Exchange Student Shares Life in USA

First of all, my name is Ali, YES student 04/05 from Yemen. I have had the greatest time of my life as a YES student. This program has opened my eyes to many things that I have never expect myself to experience. I wasn't quite optimistic about coming to the States by myself, but because I have an adventurous soul and personality; I participated in the YES program.

Originally, I participated because I was seeking for change and to put off my curiosity to know about American culture and life style. Because of globalization, America to us in Yemen and other Islamic countries is a country where Hollywood is a reality. By that I mean, all the movies we watch and all we hear about the US was actually true about them. Something in me wasn't really trusting in that, so I decided to apply to the YES program.

My journey started in my home country where the AMIDEAST did a great job preparing us for the program. I got to learn a bit about the Americans even before I met them. Many people in my country believed that I would be a good diplomat. Well, that really got me going although the testing and selecting for the program was "nerve racking". Anyway, after I got a full support of my family and passed all my exams, I had to face the reality of leaving them.

Life in the US

When I first stepped out of Dulles Airport, I felt a hot humid breeze and instantly, I thought they might have mistaken our group and took us to a Caribbean Island, or maybe they wanted to surprise us to see our shock. This indicates that we arrived in the August heat. Well, I have never experienced such a humid weather, so I was honestly shocked. As we were driving to the hotel, I barely saw any tall buildings and many trees, I was certain that we were at the Amazon or elsewhere. I was expecting to see buildings like the ones in downtown Manhattan. I still enjoyed that first shocking moments.

Getting to know all YES students from all over the Middle East was even more interesting. After spending an amazing three nights stay at the hotel for the entrance orientating, I was ready to meet my host family. I can go on and on telling all details of my story because they are fresh and it feels like it just happened yesterday. But most importantly is that I have enjoyed every moment during my stay in the States. The best part is I learned much about the US cultures and society, much more than what I have ever expected.

 The best thing I did in my life is to learn how to make friends, share valuable cultural experiences, and build cultural bridge between nations. If I can do this over again, I would do it over and over until I die.