Our exchange students come from all over the world and from different backgrounds. While each student is different, one thing is consistent: the amazing experience that each experiences with their time in America.
We recently received a letter from one of our students who is in America through the YES program. Tamba is from Sierra Leone in West Africa and shares all of the new and exciting experiences with us, from using a computer for the first time to seeing snow for the first time.
Tamba tells us that he lost both of his parents before 2009 and has been living with his uncle. Before coming to the U.S., he attended the Islamic Secondary School Koidu and was one of the top students in his class. He had the best results out of 430 students who took the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in 2012. A YES program representative had sent him the application to apply to come to the U.S., which he qualified for!
Tamba arrived in Colorado in August and his first experience was with a freight train, which he had never seen before. “Many things in United States seem to be new to me,” Tamba says. He had also never used a computer until he arrived. “I had never logged onto a computer back home. I didn’t even know what email or Facebook was.” Tamba’s host mom, Cheryl Blair, found a typing program for him so that he could learn how to type and “within three weeks I started to do touch typing which was crazy to me.”
Adjusting to school was another new but at times difficult experience for Tamba. “Figuring out how to get into my classes was another difficult thing for me. I missed most of my classes that day. I didn’t know how to get to next class…I had to ask because back home we use to stay in one class until the end of the year.” He also had to use a computer the first day of his Business Communication class, which he had not learned how to do yet. But now, Tamba is “always the first person to log onto the computer in class when we are asked to do so.”
Besides experiencing new technologies for the first time, Tamba has also learned a lot about Americans and life in the U.S. He initially wasn’t sure what living with Americans would be like “because we have different beliefs and way of living.” He has come to find, though, that “Americans are lovely, tolerant and peaceful.” Being an exchange student with Ayusa through the YES program has also given Tamba the opportunity to learn about other countries through other exchange students. “This has made the world closer to me” he says.
Tamba proudly says that his greatest experience and success during his time in the U.S. has been living in an English speaking country, which he had never done before even with English being the official language in Sierra Leone. “I have been able to communicate in English. I am happy for that because my English is improving.”
Thank you for sharing your amazing story with us Tamba!