Lasha, a former AYA exchange student from the Republic of Georgia, is now working to send Georgian students to the United States. He participated in Academic Year in America when he was 15 years old as a high school exchange student. Lasha shared with us his gratitude for the program with a heartfelt letter to Melanie, Executive Director of the AIFS Foundation.
These are the stories, which AYA is proud to share with all of you. This is what makes the program so meaningful for thousands of students, host families and Local Coordinators past, present and future. We hope this inspires you to continue opening your homes and hearts to foreign exchange students to come.
August 14, 2008
I wanted to thank all AYA staff for all your support during my academic year in America. I wanted to share a very personal thing with you, AYA host families and Local Coordinators.
In 1992 I was 15 years old and my country was in war with Russia. I came to the U.S. through your program, Academic Year in America and stayed with a host family in Villa Rico, Georgia. My AYA host family showed me love and tenderness and treated me like their own son. They shared with me the American culture and showed me that people can open their hearts and homes for foreign students like I once was.
Melanie, after my firsthand experience living as an exchange student in America. I learned that this was the way I wanted to live my life. Today I have incorporated these traditions and values in my own life.
For example, when hundreds of people were displaced due to political conflict in my country, my company and I brought food and aide to their side. I opened my home to these people like I had experienced in America when my host family took me in and treated me like a member of their family.
My acts of kindness came from people like you, who treated me the same way during my year in the U.S. And I wanted share with you and all the AYA LCs and host families that you are wonderful people and that the job you’re doing is so important to humanity. On a daily basis AYA makes the world a better place. I hope this message is shared with all families across America and know that I am grateful and that my country is grateful for all the opportunities you have provided.
God bless you,
Lasha, Tbilisi, Georgia
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