Known to spontaneously break out in dance

Falling in Love with Hope

Hello! My name is Salmata, and I am from Sierra Leone. Since I arrived in the United States, I have discovered a lot of things. Everything is new for me and totally different, but as time goes by, I realize that I love this wonderful place called Hope, Arkansas. Americans are kind people, even if you don’t know each other, they still say hello.

I also fell in love with my host family, since in my country I don’t spend a lot of time with my family. We like going out of town together to eat on Fridays, and I have tried different types of food and gone to different places. The first time I tried pizza, I said, “It tastes horrible!” My host family bought me hot chicken wings instead. Those days are my favorites so far—going out with my host family.

We also went shopping, looking for things for Thanksgiving. While we were looking around, music was playing, and I started to dance in the mall. I was surprised to see my host sister dancing along with me. My host mom said, “You guys should stop dancing. Let’s focus for what we are here for.” But still the music didn’t stop playing, and I didn’t stop dancing. My host mom followed us and danced along with us. It was fun.   

I also went to a parade, where I had an incredibly fun time. Some people were dancing while others were singing and having fun. I saw a lot of girls dressed up like queens and princesses. I loved it, because I had never seen anything like it before.      

I never thought that I was going to be an exchange student. I want to thank the YES program for giving me this opportunity.

—Salmata (YES, Sierra Leone), hosted by the Yoya family (AR)