The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program was established in 2002 by the United State Congress. The program is funded by the US Department of State and is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs. The YES program was founded in responds to the events following Sept. 11, 2001.
Secondary students from nearly 40 countries with significant Muslim populations are awarded scholarships that enable them to study in the United States for the 2017-2018 school year. Of the students selected to attend school in the US, 30 will be living with host families In Iowa.
The first group of YES students who will be studying in Iowa arrived on Friday, Aug. 4, 2017 to the Des Moines International Airport. They were greeted by Iowa Resource for International Service (IRIS) staff before meeting their host families.
Pictured from left to right: Aryan (Bangladesh), Nouha (Morocco), Hooria (Pakistan), Abir Tej (Tunisia) and Yara (Lebanon).
IRIS is always delighted to welcome the new YES students to Iowa!” said Del Christensen, the executive director of IRIS. “Many of these students come to the US with assumptions about what their host homes or communities will look like but they are often surprised and then delighted to find the warm welcoming nature of the Midwest.”
The second group of arrivals, consisting of two groups of students, arrived on Thursday, Aug. 10.
Pictured from left to right: Mayma (Kenya), Shaimaa (Egypt), Pinar (Turkey), Ruth (Ghana), Vraj (India), Mohamed (Egypt) and Ali (Turkey).
“Families in America hosting students from all angles of the world are directly hosting and participate in building up future leaders and generations for the respective countries,” said Bakari Mtili (YES alumnus 2011-2012).
Pictured from left to right: Meghann (South Africa), Sila (Indonesia), Kito (Mozambique), Farieda (Thailand) and Insirah (Phillippines).
Pictured: Abir Tej from Tunisia with her 2017-2018 host parents in Iowa.
“An exchange student arrives to your home a stranger, but leaves as a part of your family,” said Jesse Maikarfi (YES alumnus 2015-2016).