Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange & Study (YES) Program

The U.S. Department of State’s (USDOS) YES program was established by Congress in October 2002 in response to the events of September 11, 2001. YES provides scholarships for high school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend up to one academic year in the United States.

Students live with host families, attend high school, engage in activities to learn about American society and values, acquire leadership skills, and help educate Americans about their countries and cultures. The YES program is sponsored by the USDOS' Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with funding provided by the U.S. Congress and is administered by PAX.

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    YES Alumna Ifreet (Bangladesh) discusses project implementation at a Young Leaders Program.

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    Celebrating homecoming in Indiana are Cheraine (Suriname), Dalva (Mozambique), Afifah (Indonesia), Bam (Thailand), and friend Jalyne.

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    Ayeshadira (Indonesia) is all smiles with her new school friend in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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    During the Civic Education Workshop, Haziq (India) met Senator Leahy of his host state Vermont.

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    Ramsha (Pakistan) and her silly and excitable host siblings enjoy autumn in Wisconsin.

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    Mevlut—who spent his exchange year in Oregon—shares his culture through traditional Turkish dance.

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    Pakistani and honorary Virginian Danish pitches in for Global Youth Service Day.

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    There's always something new and fun happening when Marzaan (Bangladesh) and her Arizona host sisters are around.

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    Pictured with Principal Andersson of his Ohio high school, Ali (Pakistan) gave 26 presentations during International Education Week.

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    From the West Bank to Washington State: Dima is on the air for her regular Foreign Exchange program at North Beach High.

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    Rada's classmate back in Bulgaria (Lilyana) features in a "virtual exchange" video chat with her Wisconsin school. 

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    Even the family dog joined in to help Saadman (Bangladesh) learn about Alaskan leisure-time activities.

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    Nabila (Indonesia) enjoys learning about the Christmas spirit and an iconic charitable campaign.

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    The Brady family in Tennessee always looks forward to Claude's special Cameroonian dishes!

A Prestigious Scholarship

YES students undergo a rigorous merit-based selection process. Academic performance, English language competence, and personal qualities are all important factors. On average, one in 40 applicants is selected.

While in the United States, YES students make presentations about their home countries and participate in PAX coordinator-designed enhancement activities. These special learning opportunities focus on American culture and diversity; government and democracy; entrepreneurship and free market economy; and leadership.

In addition, these youth ambassadors volunteer in the community and are encouraged to apply for national workshops.

American Host Families

At home, YES students are excited to share in the daily life of a real American family. Host families, in turn, find that everyday activities take on new meaning when shared with a young person eager to discover their way of life.

While some host families have teenagers or young children, others are empty nesters, single parents, or don’t have children of their own. The most important thing is that they are prepared to share their lives with a YES student as if this child were their own son or daughter—providing a bed, a quiet place to study, and a seat at the dining table.

Through the experience, families are able to put an irreplaceable laugh, smile, and spirit to a once faraway land, developing cherished, lifelong bonds and memories—forged at dinner tables, in rec rooms, and on back porches.

Medallion Member Schools

High schools that enroll YES students set themselves apart. Not only do they demonstrate a commitment to academic and cultural enrichment through international exchange, they also help realize U.S. foreign policy goals by fostering communication with the youth of key countries. 

As such, they are invited by the U.S. Department of State to become Medallion Member Schools—a distinction recognized by pairing the official medallion with their school name on banners, newsletters, websites, clothing, and more.

And YES students are quick to give back to the school communities that welcome them. In fact, every YES student makes at least one cultural presentation and completes at least 20 hours of community service. Many also organize virtual exchanges—interesting and inspiring ways of using technology to connect their U.S. classes with classes back home.

 

 

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YES Countries

Albania // Bahrain // Bangladesh // Bosnia and Herzegovina // Bulgaria // Cameroon // Egypt // Gaza // Ghana // India // Indonesia // Israel (Arab Communities) // Jordan // Kenya // Kosovo // Kuwait // Lebanon // Liberia // Libya // Malaysia // Mali // Morocco // Mozambique // Nigeria // North Macedonia // Pakistan // Philippines // Saudi Arabia // Senegal // Sierra Leone // South Africa // Suriname // Tanzania // Thailand // Tunisia // Turkey // West Bank