Sunday, May 8, 2011

Umm, Hello Malaysia!

I found out a couple of weeks ago that I was a finalist for the Youth Exchange and Study Scholarship for Malaysia!  That means that I get to spend all of next year in Malaysia for free.  I have never been so excited for anything before!  I still remember the feeling I got when I first got the email telling me I got it.  When I am in Malaysia I will be living in Seremban, living with a host family, and attending a local high school.  While I am there I will be keeping this blog to keep in touch with my friends and family back home.  I am going to miss you all so much!

What is YES?
YES (also known as Youth Exchange and Study) is the program that has given me the scholarship.  YES is funded by State Department, and has given away 50 fully paid scholarships to high school students around the country.  YES sends the students to countries with significant Muslim populations (Ghana, India, Indonesia, Turkey, Malaysia, Mali, Morocco, Oman, and Thailand) in order to decrease cultural misunderstandings.  YES selects the finalists, and pays for the tuition, and works different exchange student programs to send the students abroad.  I am going to be traveling through AFS (American Field Service) to Malaysia.  I am very happy that I am going to be going abroad with AFS!  AFS is the program that I studied abroad in Paraguay with and the program that my mom went to Indonesia in 1985.  I have had great experiences with AFS and I know I will be in good hands.

To get the YES scholarship you must first summit an online application, which includes a host family letter, medical information, transcripts, etc., and multiple essays.  From the students that apply YES selects 75 semifinalists to send to Denver for a 3 days interview.  The interview includes individual and group interview sessions.  The weekend I spent in Denver was amazing, and I met some incredible people.  Three weeks after we left Denver we got the emails telling us if we were selected as a finalist or not.

I am both extremely excited and honored to have received this scholarship, and I can't wait to be an ambassador for the United States! :)