YES Brochrue

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What is the YES Program?

The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, provides full scholarships for high school students (generally ages 15-17) from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend 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.

YES students undergo an extremely competitive and rigorous merit-based selection process. They are provided with comprehensive orientations to prepare them for the exchange and receive small monthly

Building Bridges of Understanding

stipends to help allow them to take part in social activities or with other incidental needs while in the U.S. The YES program seeks to reach students who might not otherwise have the means to take part in an exchange program.

The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program was established by Congress in October 2002 in response to the events of September 11, 2001. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the U.S. exchange community recognize the value of public diplomacy in youth exchange to build bridges of understanding between citizens of the United States and about forty countries with significant Muslim populations around the world.

The YES program provides international students with more than the experience of living in another country. Students develop a sense of global citizenship as well as leadership skills during their exchange year.

Through participation in community service and volunteer activities, giving presentations in classrooms and clubs, and everyday interactions, students become ambassadors of their country, develop leadership skills that they put into action to contribute to their communities and form relationships that last a lifetime.


The competition for the Youth Exchange and Study scholarship is merit-based and open at no cost to all applicants who meet the following requirements:

• Be between the ages of 15-17.6 by the start of program;

• Be enrolled in 8th, 9th, 10th or 11th grade at the time of application (exceptions will be made for 8th grade students attending schools with winter bound sessions);

• Have the equivalent of a B average or better without failing grades;

• Shows leadership quality and ready to adapt to a new culture;

• Be a citizen of India.

YES Program Goals

While living with an American family and attending a U.S. high school, YES students...

• Acquire an understanding of important elements of a civil society, including concepts such as volunteerism, civic responsibility and respect for the rule of law.

• Develop an appreciation for American culture, an increased respect for diversity, and appreciation for others with differing views, beliefs and practices.

• Interact with Americans and generate enduring ties. Teach Americans about the people and cultures of their home countries.

• Gain leadership capacity that will enable them as alumni to initiate and support community service and development projects in their home countries.

Students with Disabilities

The program can support students with disabilities and encourages their participation.

The Department of State and the YES program work with Mobility International (MIUSA) to provide students with disabilities leadership-building workshops, appropriate information and support as needed to enhance their year in America.

Students with disabilities must also meet the above eligibility requirements.

I have become more confident, independent, appreciative, and much more. I have become a much better person and gained the ability to “step in someone else’s shoes” to see the world from his or her perspective. This program has impacted me greatly. I am a global citizen now where I not only have best friends all over India but from all over the world. Whenever I talk about something about my family, I am often asked which family I am talking about: my Indian or American family.

This program enabled me to develop a spirit of volunteerism. It helped me develop new hobbies and passion and improve the ones I already had. Most importantly, this program helped me find my true self and my capabilities. In future, I am definitely going to host an exchange student and keep on connecting lives and sharing cultures! Once again, I would love to thank the State Department, AFS, YES, my family and friends, and every other person who helped make this dream come true.

I experienced a lot of new things here. I met new people and made new friendships, and I know it will last forever.

Most of all, I gained a second family who loves me and cares about me. One of my favorite things in the USA was my host school. I loved walking down those packed hallways and using those cool American handshakes with the friends in the hallways.

This exchange program helped me know my true self and my abilities. I have a different point of view to everything now. I came here as a stone and it carved a diamond out of me. I am a completely different person now and all the credit goes to YES program.

Looking back at all these memories, I am happy with all the memories I made. A part of me will always stay here in USA. This experience will stay with me for my entire life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Studying abroad in high school is an exciting journey for both you and your child. We have compiled the information below to help answer some of the questions you may have about the YES program. For further information, please write to us.

Who will support my child’s well being while abroad?

YES participants are placed in volunteer host family homes and into host schools in the United States by established and reputable placement organizations that have competitively been awarded grants by the U.S. Department of State to implement the placement portion of the YES program. While on the program, your child will have regular contact with a trained coordinator in his or her community who will provide support, assistance, and guidance, and who will be in regular contact with the placement organization’s national headquarters. As the consortium lead on the grant for YES operations, also competitively awarded by the U.S. Department of State, American Councils has a National Office in Washington, DC, which cooperates with all placement organizations nationwide and with all overseas recruiting offices. Each country participating in the YES program has an in-country office with at least one permanent employee in each YES country. These staff, who are the main contacts for the parents of YES students, in turn communicate with all organizations placing YES students in host communities.

As a parent, how can I help promote the well-being of my child?

One of the ways you can help YES plan for your child’s successful participation in the program is by providing all relevant information regarding your child’s personal health and family history on the requested application forms. This information will not be evaluated as part of the selection process, but is considered when making host community assignments. Relevant information includes, but is not limited to, a diagnosis of or treatment for an illness, a physical disability, a learning disability, a behavioral or emotional

“ “ - YES Program Participant

disorder, a dietary restriction, or drastic changes in weight. Recent traumatic experiences or significant changes in the student’s natural family, including serious illness, death, divorce, incarceration, or custodial changes, can also influence a student’s experience. Living and studying abroad can be a stressful and challenging experience for people of any age. These stresses can be compounded by any existing physical or mental health issues or concerns at home that arise prior to the start of the program. In order to help YES organizations and their staff to make appropriate decisions about your child’s experience, please inform us of relevant situations as quickly as possible throughout the application process and program.

What is the involvement of the U.S. Department of State?

The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Organizations implementing the YES program report to the U.S. Department of State.

Where will my child be living?

All YES students live with host families who have been carefully screened and selected. Host families receive formal orientation and training to introduce them to cultural differences and to prepare them for the hosting experience. Local coordinators provide support to participants and host families throughout the program. Students attend a school in their community alongside American peers.

What happens in the case of an emergency?

YES implementing organizations are prepared to respond to emergencies in the United States. Each organization provides 24-hour assistance in the event of an emergency and facilitates appropriate medical treatment, including evacuation, if necessary. YES consults with the U.S. Department of State and external risk management organizations to monitor the safety of participants while in the United States.

Will my child have medical coverage while abroad?

YES participants are provided with accident and sickness medical coverage to ensure that, in the case of an emergency, students will be treated as soon as possible.

What costs are covered?

The YES scholarship covers costs related to:

•round-trip airfare from your home country to the United States;

•the cost of a National Level Orientation;

•placement with a U.S. host family for 10 to 11 months;

•a modest monthly stipend;

•health insurance; and

•the cost of program activities and materials.

What costs are not covered by the scholarship?

Some costs that you can expect to incur from your child’s participation in the program include costs associated with obtaining a passport, required medical examinations and immunizations, and extra pocket money while on program.

How will YES help my child prepare to go abroad?

YES provides a wide variety of support mechanisms for students preparing to go abroad. Preparation for the YES experience begins shortly after the finalists are selected, with weekly follow up by AFS India National Office. Additionally, all YES finalists are required to attend National Level Orientations where they cover relevant topics that they will face during the program year. At the Orientations, they are given a student workbook and handbook, which is theirs to keep and contains the material covered in the Orientation.

Lastly, upon arrival to the United States, YES students attend an orientation in Washington, D.C. with YES students from other countries, where critical information is reviewed before the students depart for their host communities.

About AFS

AFS Intercultural Programs is an international, voluntary, non-governmental, non-profit organization that provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world.

AFS Intercultural Programs India

A-9, First Floor, Chittaranjan Park, New Delhi - 110019, India

Office: +91-11 4-477-4938/+91-858-698-5634 |

For more information about YES programs, visit

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