Arooba is an exchange student from Pakistan, participating with AYA through the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program (YES). YES students serve as youth ambassadors of the United States, promoting mutual understanding by forming lasting relationships with their host families and communities.
She shared with us some memorable volunteering moments during her exchange year in Virginia.
I am living in Unionsville, Virginia, studying at the public high school. As a student ambassador of my country I am trying to make an impact during my exchange year by sharing my culture with other American high school students and my host community. In return, I am learning more about my host country’s culture and traditions.
Therefore, I would like to share one of the most phenomenal experiences I had during my exchange year. It was late November and my Student Council Association organized an event to celebrate a highly cherished family holiday in the U.S. called, “Thanksgiving”.
However, this event was no ordinary American Thanksgiving. We were not all around the table with close family members. This event was a huge Thanksgiving dinner for members of the community that took place at my school. It’s called a ‘Laurie Jamerson’s Tradition’. Laurie is my AYA Local Coordinator and S.C.A adviser. Every year for the past 12 years she has organized the event to raise money for the University of Virginia Hospital.
Reflecting on the event now, it was so meaningful to me and provided a sense of satisfaction for me to know that I was giving back to my host community and learning more about their holiday and traditions. In total, I volunteered 10 hours of serving and cooking. Now, I feel I truly know the meaning of ‘Thanksgiving’. Thank you to my S.C.A club, I will have this memory forever!