The YES program was established in 2002 in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001. The program aims to dismantle stereotypes and build relationships between the American people and those from countries with significant Muslim populations who may have differing views, beliefs, and practices. Funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by American Councils for International Education, the YES program offers high school students from 38 countries around the world a fully-funded opportunity to spend up to one academic year in the United States living with a host family and attending an American high school.
In 2007, the YES program was expanded to include YES Abroad, which provides scholarships for American high school students, and recent high school graduates, to spend an academic year in one of nine YES designated countries. While this is the first year for the YES Abroad program in Bosnia, the YES program has offered scholarships to students in South East Europe since 2009.
Prior to arriving in Sarajevo, the Bosnian-bound students participated in a pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C. along with 48 other YES Abroad students, who were also departing to study language and culture in Ghana, India, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Thailand, and Turkey. During the orientation, the scholars explored topics including intercultural communication, effective methods for processing and coping with the adjustment to their host culture, safety and security in their new environment, and how to be an effective ambassador of both their culture and the YES Abroad program. The students also visited each of their host country embassies in Washington, which provided them with a glimpse into the many cultural experiences awaiting them during their study abroad. Students attended country-specific information sessions and participated in an interactive panel discussion at the U.S. Department of State, where they asked questions of State Department employees who focus on their host countries.
“I am very excited to [have met] and become integrated with my family in Sarajevo. I have two host brothers and a host mother, and only one of my brothers speaks English. I know this will be a challenge, but they seem truly very excited to teach me about their city, language, and lifestyle that I'm sure the whole process will be made much easier,” said Emma Goldrick, a YES Abroad participant from Allison Park, Pennsylvania. “They are very welcoming and everyone is so kind!”
In addition to attending school in Sarajevo, the students will participate in extracurricular activities in their host communities, visit cultural and historical sites throughout Bosnia, as well as work with Bosnian alumni from the YES program to complete community development activities. American Councils will also organize cultural enhancement activities for the students throughout the year that are designed to broaden the students’ global perspectives.
This year’s YES Abroad students studying in Bosnia come from Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Following their 10-month study abroad, the students will return to the U.S. with a deeper appreciation for Bosnian culture, and with a breadth of dynamic experiences to share with their families, friends, and colleagues.
To learn more about the YES program click here.