Thanksgiving is a time to think about all of the blessings in our lives. The exchange year experience often brings about many new and exciting experiences that both students and host families feel thankful for. Please enjoy these three reflections from members of the AYA community as we approach Thanksgiving:
Julia, an AYA student from Brazil hosted in Louisiana:
“First of all, I’m so thankful for having an amazing family that gave me the opportunity to realize my biggest dream, a year exchange program at United States. I’m also thankful to my new host family that has been treating me so well, and we have so much fun together. Thankful for wonderful local coordinator that always helps me out. Thankful for the friends i’ve made here. Thankful for having great experiences and learning every single day. Thankful to be part of #WeAreAYA”
Michelle, an AYA host mom in Montana:
“This Thanksgiving the boys will be celebrating with the traditional Thanksgiving family feast. They will assist with hosting of the festivities. We are incorporating celebrating desserts from their countries and Thailand and Korea along with Morocco for other attendees from Morocco. Additionally, we will be kicking off the Christmas decorating, they will assist in both the making of decorations and the decorating of the house.
Thanksgiving is the time to share the bounty of our lives with others. It is a time to invite friends, family, even strangers and those who less fortunate to share the blessings God given.
I am most thankful this year for my children, natural and exchange. They have brought a great blessing and motivate me to be the best version of myself.”
Varun, an AYA student from Pakistan living in North Carolina:
“I’m grateful for so many things! My host parents, my school, my friends, but the things I am grateful are being accepted for this opportunity to come to the states, make the high school Wrestling team💪, and being among the 7 students in the school to be selected to receive the Certificate for Recognition For Academic in the Science Department!❤️❤️ even got a Chick-fil-A gift card from it haha! 😂”
Karam, an AYA student from Gaza:
“Gratitude… Thanks… Showing gratitude was something that I didn’t learn about in my life, or more specifically in my home country. I learned about it here in the US. What I found that it’s really nice to thank somebody and to hear somebody thanking you; you feel that you have achieved something big even if it was small. Honestly, most of the time, it makes my day to hear somebody thanking me. I would like to grant this feeling to others by thanking them too.
Indeed, I want to thank a lot of people. A lot of things that I have done wouldn’t have been possible without those angels, people who helped me all the way through. I would like to thank my natural family who stood beside me my entire life and usually granted me hope and support, my host family who opened their home and hearts to accept me regardless of who I am and more importantly, they granted me love.
Palestine, my home. The United States, my second home. YES, which built bridges of understanding between cultures and gave me this unique opportunity to talk to the world about myself. AYA, which is standing beside us now and which is not sparing any efforts to make this experience very unique, unforgettable and to make the best out of it. So thank you all..
In fact, I don’t know much about Thanksgiving but I am taking it as a chance to thank the people I love truthfully. And what I think is perhaps the best way to celebrate it is by doing the main reason it was created, give thanks.”
Annie, an AYA student from Armenia hosted in New York:
“Life? What is that? I am so thankful to God for giving me opportunities to have 2 families (my natural and my host ). I am thankful to them for being next to me everyday, every time, every moment. I am so thankful to them for believing in my smile, for supporting me, I am so thankful that I have so many friends who are next to, whenever I am laughing , whenever I am crying, I am so thankful to God for having abilities and everything else.
But most of all, I wanna say “thank you” to FLEX program for giving me so many chances to improve myself, to be much more than I have been before, to make a lot of friends, to share and to get, to smile and to hug, I am so thankful to my teacher both in Armenia and here. I am so thankful that I am educated and I am so thankful to the people who never stop believing in me even if I am at the edge to fail. I am so thankful them for not letting me give up ❤️”