YES program participant enjoying the outdoors in Washington
Syeda loves all of that fresh Pacific Northwest air in WA!

Adventures in Washington

I had a dream, not the one that Martin Luther King Jr. had years ago, but a dream to travel, explore, and learn about new places, and other cultures. This is one of the things that I inherited from my biological mother. So because of this, I was just as much, if not more excited, than any other exchange student to travel to the U.S. And it is indeed like a dream come true. 

My journey here, since the time I stepped into Pasco Airport in Washington, has been nothing less than a roller coaster ride. I must say that I am fortunate enough to have a host mother who is also very adventurous and loves travelling like me. Soon after I arrived in Richland, Washington—my home for the year—my host mom and I experienced many new things and enjoyed a lot together. We went for a hike to Candy Mountain. Though it was my first time, we managed to do the summit. It was a bit tough but an awesome experience.

We also went to a fair in Spokane, and then the following week, we went to Naches and camped there for three days. It was my first time camping, but I don't have words to describe my experience.  

Apart from that, I also spent time serving in the community. I volunteered in concessions at a football game, spending the whole evening offering food to the people who came to see the game. It was indeed one of the best days since I have been here in the U.S. I not only enjoy my life, but since learning is the part of the process, I have also learned many things from American culture. Those things are not better or worse than my culture. They are just different. 

And one of the most beautiful things I learned here is to smile at strangers or people passing by, to say sorry, and to show gratitude even at the smallest of things. I am looking forward to an amazing exchange year and to experiencing and learning more new things ahead in these nine months.

—Syeda (YES, Pakistan), hosted by the Martin family (WA)