October 2019, Vol. XXV, No. 2

Article Index


First Full Edition of Program Year

Arkansas to Washington, Vermont to Kansas: we have heard from the class of 2019/20. 

They're celebrating spirit week, running cross country, "nerding out" at DragonCon, and doing their best to follow the football game. Also in this issue, we hear from multiple alums and get to know our first FLEX/YES students of the month.

Thanks to all of the students, host families, and coordinators who submitted such inspired stories—PAX Press' 25th year looks like it's going to be a great one!


[Cover image: Talk about a welcoming committee—host sisters and Seattle-area suburbanites Adelaide and Miriam quickly became Jiya's (YES, India) biggest fans!]


1) My First Month

"Entering the house with the barking dog almost gave me a heart attack, but I am no longer afraid of it...it follows me everywhere."

—Lois (YES, Ghana) hosted by the Tibbits family (WA)

Like an American Teen

 Exchange student from Ukraine at high school football game in Indiana

For the first seconds of my new life, I couldn’t believe that the time had already come. I saw a woman with a poster in her hands and a girl with balloons next to her. It was my host family!

I spent a few days getting used to everything and trying new food. I went to...

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Adjusting in the Sunshine State

 High school exchange student from Germany is welcomed at Florida airport by host sister and host brother

After my first flight on my own, my host family welcomed me with smiles and beautiful posters. We had four days left until school started so I was able to meet the friend group of my host sister at the beach, which was a very nice day.

Then school started, and to be honest... 

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New Experiences for Nigerian

 Nigerian student on front steps of house with flowers

The first weeks of my stay in Missouri have been unforgettable! I improved my socializing skills, tried new food, and adapted to a new environment.

Getting through school for some people was pretty rough but not in my case. As an exchange student, I am kind of popular in school, and almost everyone...

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Magnificent Month in Midwest

 Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study student from Indonesia jumping in front of Wisconsin Capitol Building

Wisconsin is already home for me, and I love it. I love my second home.

I tried a lot of things in my first month. In the first week I went to my first American party and it was so fun! I enjoyed the dancing, the music, and of course the food. I love the food!

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Embracing the Unknown

 Teenage girl from Somaliland in front of Puget Sound in Washington

When I first came to New York for my orientation, I was fascinated by everything. There were tall green trees, happy smiling energetic people, and above all, the mysteries that I had to uncover and learn from in order to make most of this golden opportunity. 

Now, I'm out in Washington, and...

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Homecoming Traditions

 YES exchange student from Indonesia in suit for homecoming photo on front steps in Indiana

Homecoming is celebrated with sporting events, parades, or carnivals. This tradition stems from the desire to bring back alumni so that knowledge sharing can take place. But happiness is the dominant feeling around the campus.

The homecoming event I saw in Indianapolis...

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2) Get Involved!

"I joined the cross country team and tried to improve my running skills. That said, I’m really not a runner at all (you would understand very quickly if you saw me running). So…I became the cross country manager!"

—Nataliia (FLEX, Ukraine), hosted by the Hunt family (IN)



"I did my first presentation and educated my classmates about my country and our culture, which I’m really happy about, because no one knew Palestine or had heard about it before."

—Mays (YES, West Bank), hosted by the Downey family (IN)


4) Exchange Living

"I didn't know how to unlock the door, so I had to call my host mom. I couldn't get out of the house and was going to miss the bus!"

—Lucia (Spain), hosted by the Duran family (KS)


5) Alumni News

"What I’ve learned from my experiences is that you can never know what the world will be like until see it for yourself. In the immortal words of Sir Thomas Frederick Nike III, 'Just do it.'"

—Mithra Toellner (2013/14, Germany), hosted by the Ward family (MI)


6) Photo Essay

"The first time I tried pizza, I said, 'It tastes horrible!' My host family bought me hot chicken wings instead."

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

  • 1 - Lighthouse

    Fatima (YES, Pakistan), her host sister, and her host dad enjoyed a Wisconsin afternoon by Lake Michigan.

  • 1 - Race Car

    Will Irene be the next Italian to win the Indy 500? (If so, she'll have to wait until she's off program...no driving!)

  • 1 - Young Sisters

    Did you think Jiya's (YES, India) little host sisters (WA) had reached peak cuteness on the issue cover? You were mistaken.

  • 2 - Iryna - Airport

    Indiana community coordinator Amy Cooper collects Iryna (FLEX, Ukraine) and Luqman (YES, Libya) at the airport.

  • 1 - Group

    Sporting their T-shirts, this cluster in Kansas shows off their PAX pride. (Thanks for sharing, Lucia!)

  • 3 - Nika - Veronica - Billiards

    PNW Pool: Nika (FLEX, Georgia) teaches Veronica (FLEX, Moldova) how to play billiards in Washington State.

  • 3 - Faly - Senegal

    Faly (left) and his classmates on the first day. The YES Senegalese admitted being very nervous, but "Everyone was so kind with me!"

  • 3 - Cristina - Volleyball

    Cristina (Spain, hosted in KS): I joined the volleyball team and we make a really good team. We’re like a family! I’m really happy here.

  • 2 - Nastya - Spirit Week

    Nastya (FLEX, Kazakhstan) and the Taylor crew dressed up as The Seven Dwarves during spirit week in Mississippi. (She's Happy and happy.)

  • 3 - Aidai - Purdue Volleyball

    Aidai (FLEX, Kyrgyzstan): "My host family's cousin is the volleyball coach at Eastern Michigan. Although, we wore Purdue shirts, we cheered on her team."

  • 3 - Palestine Presentation

    Mays (YES, West Bank) and her Indiana classmates after her first cultural presentation of the year.

  • 3 - Lois - Ghana

    Lois (YES, Ghana) and her host family, the Tibbits, enjoy a sunny day in Washington State.

  • 1 - Iryna - Passport

    Posing with her passport, Iryna's (FLEX, Ukraine) first stop was a month-long English camp in Moldova.

Don't See Your Story? Not to worry! While we had a near record submission rate for this issue, we are always looking for great stories to share—whether for next month's issue of PAX Press or for Facebook (did you check for your submission there?), Instagram, YouTube or the PAX Map. So, don't wait for the next call for stories; email your story to paxpress@pax.org now. Be sure to include great, full-resolution photos (please, fewer selfies and groupies) or a video.