Bilal Muslim, a YES student from Pakistan, left his big city and traded it in for a new adventure in rural America. Placed in Independence, Iowa, he is now embracing all of the joys that farm life has to offer.
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In the first couple of weeks, Bilal decided to step out of his comfort zone by joining the football team. Since the first practice, he has proven to be a natural and even earned the nickname “Blue” from his fellow teammates. Bilal also joined Future Farmers of America (FFA) and has had the opportunity to go to the FFA Tri-State Conference where he participated in a dairy quality and food contests.
Even though his extracurricular activities keep him busy, he still manages to find time to volunteer. At his latest service event he volunteered 4.5 hours packaging food. During the event, they were able to package over 50,000 meals that will be dispersed internationally and in Iowa.
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Everyone he meets, including the teachers and staff at Vinton-Shellsburg High School, have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Bilal. His host mother and teacher, Melissa Heeren noticed,
“Everyone says ‘Hi’ to him in the hallways and he has made some great friends!”
On the list of his supporters is his local coordinator, Ashley Heffern, who couldn’t be more proud. She adds,
“Bilal has done an amazing job integrating himself to his host community and adapting to the lifestyle of his host family. He is doing everything he can to make the most of his experience. He is flexible and easy going and works to maintain a positive attitude!”

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