Sharing holiday traditions can be a fun way to get to know more about another culture. Fatima, a YES student from Lebanon, shared the following about her experiences learning about Christmas and volunteering in her community with her host mom. It’s lovely to see people coming together with open minds to experience different cultures—and volunteering their time to give back to others.
My experience as an AYA student has been probably one of the most amazing experiences that I will ever encounter. Every day that goes by, I have a new story or an experience to tell. One experience that will never leave my heart was Christmas with my Host Family. Christmas was so special to me. Not because of the gifts or the decorations, but because of the effort that my host family put in to make me one of the happiest children ever!
The day after Christmas, my mom told me we were going to give presents to underprivileged children. I wore a red shirt, and my host mom dressed as Mrs. Clause. There were about 300 children at this event. When we started giving presents away, the children looked at me like I was a princess. They were the happiest and most thankful children ever.
At that moment, my host mom looked at me and said, “this is what Christmas is about. The happiness that it brings to the children and watching them smile so big. You feel like you have achieved something in your life and that you are special.”
And she was right, I definitely felt like I had achieved something that day, and I was really proud of myself. The best part of being an exchange student is the big lessons you learn and the achievements you can make by doing such small and simple things!
— Fatima, Lebanon, YES program
We’d love to hear more stories from AYA students and families. If you have a great anecdote about cultural exchange with AYA, please leave a reply below or email firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us all about it.