Tilyan is thriving with her host family in Indiana

Turning Dreams into Realities

I still find it a dream when I see myself living with an American host family. It means the world to me—not because they are the only people I know in USA, but because they are the best people I have ever met in my life. Two years ago, I had no idea I could have a family in another part of the world, but this exchange year has made it possible.

I have an amazing host mom who cares so much for me and an awesome host dad who wants me to try every new thing, makes me Pakistani food, and motivates me every morning. And I have three outstanding younger host brothers who make me feel at home whenever I'm homesick. The way they call my name reminds me of my siblings back home.

Apart from a wonderful family and great opportunities, this exchange year has given me so much that I had never imagined. I used to be a frightened, unadventurous girl, and did not think I was brave. I was very confident as far back as I can remember but never brave. I was afraid of people, approval, concerns, comments, and always wondered what people would say.

I look back and compare that me with the present ME and realize how much I have changed the way I approach people—raising my hand for every activity, not being afraid of anything I feared before, knowing that everyone has scars and imperfections and that's what make them beautifully unique... I realize that I don’t want to be same person I was before; I want to be constantly changing, shifting, and improving.

And I know my worth and know that people will love me when I love myself. I have grown up to be a smart, bold, and strong young lady in just a few months.

I am trying to make the most of my exchange year and share it with everyone else. I will try as many new things as I can, I will try to cherish each moment of my life in this year because, "This is not a year in a life, but a life in a year."

I have decided that when I get back to Pakistan I will counsel young people to follow their dreams and make efforts to make them come true. I would especially like to encourage the people of my home city, Turbat, and all the remote areas where we limit ourselves just because we think we cannot, don't have opportunities, or our parents won't allow us.

I want to make a difference through my efforts and all that I have learned and will learn in the upcoming days, so that young girls are encouraged to be more determined and focused on their goals and ambitions.

—Tilyan (YES, Pakistan), hosted by the Messman family (IN)