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What is the Youth Exchange & Study Program?

The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange & Study Program (YES) is a grant program established in 2002 in response to the events of September 11, 2001, and funded by the U.S. Department of State. The program awards scholarships to high school students from more than 40 countries with significant Muslim populations, giving them the opportunity to spend up to a year living with a host family in the U.S., and to attend an American high school.

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Students Who Will Change the World

We believe the YES exchange program has the potential to make the world a better place—to break down cultural barriers, misperceptions and stereotypes between Muslim countries and the United States. It helps us realize that we’re alike in more ways than we realize and that we can learn from our differences.

That’s why the Department of State selects students who are the best of the best academically and who have the skills, determination and desire to serve as ambassadors for their home countries. These students use their YES experience to make a positive and lasting impact. Ayusa YES students are:

  • High Achievers

    High Achievers - Ayusa YES Students

    A merit-based application, English language proficiency testing, and a thorough interview process lead to a 3% acceptance rate—a small number of students who excel in their host high schools and thrive at home and in the community.

  • Ambassadors and Leaders

    Ambassadors and Leaders - Ayusa YES Students

    Ayusa YES students come from countries with a significant Muslim population to serve as ambassadors, to dispel stereotypes and misconceptions about their culture and countries, and to promote understanding of the American culture upon their return.

  • Community-minded

    Community-minded - Ayusa YES Students

    Many YES students go well beyond the required 30 hours of community service, creating a spirit of giving and volunteerism that permeates schools, homes and communities.

Meet Our YES Students