Every fall, Academic Year in America welcomes hundreds of international high school students to the United States for an exchange year.
One of our incredible students this year, Emna, flew from Tunisia to study in Ohio. Nearly 5,000 miles from home and only a month into school, Emna, a Kennedy Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) participant, wasted no time immersing herself in her local community. She is already co-president of her high school’s Key Club, a Girl Scouts ambassador, and a French and Arabic tutor – to name a few!
Along with joining many clubs and organizations since arriving, Emna has also experienced many new and exciting “firsts” as a high schooler in the USA.
In her own words, here are 3 of Emna’s highlights from her first month in the United States.
1. First High School Homecoming
“My first homecoming dance is an experience that I will never forget. I got my stunning dress from Tunisia. It is red, like our flag. The red in the flag is a significance of the blood of people who sacrificed for our country… But for me, it was a significance of love.
I got prepared [for homecoming] with my host cousin. It was fun to do her makeup! Then, we went to the dance which was the BEST! I danced with Lis and her friends… People were complimenting my dress, my makeup, and the way I looked. I felt so happy and that helped me to be confident, and glad with, the way I am.
I felt free because I got out of my comfort zone… we were all together having fun. They didn’t care of differences or anything else. At that night, we all had the same goal – which was to enjoy your time.”
2. Dinner with Wonderful New Friends
“I went to [a hibachi restaurant for the first time] with my friend Lis. Lis is an exchange student too! She is an American and went to Brazil on her exchange year. She said, ‘I know how it feels the first days when you don’t know people at school, so I want you to be my friend.’
I am so grateful for her because she was the first one who came to me and let me in. I really appreciate the fact that she made it easier for me to make friends.
The hibachi restaurant was a great experience!”
3. Amazing Art Museum Visit
“I went to the Cleveland Museum of Art with my Local Coordinator (the sweetest) and other AYA students. We had fun together. The museum was a giant place that had more different artworks from around the world, such as Egyptian, French, and German art. There were the infinity mirrors as well!
We spent 2 hours touring the museum and discovering different kinds of drawings. There was still a lot to see… The arts made the place feel like heaven.”
Are you interested in hosting a wonderful exchange student like Emna? Learn more about hosting an exchange student with Academic Year in America (AYA).