This article was originally published in The Star.
Farewell luncheon hosted by the U.S. Embassy
KUALA LUMPUR: The dollar has strengthened greatly against the ringgit, but that will not be a problem for 45 Malaysian students headed to the United States.
The students, who will be in the U.S. for six months, have been chosen for the Kennedy Lugar–Youth Exchange Study (YES) program this year.
The youths, fresh out of secondary school, will live in various cities and towns in the United States, and will live with host families and attend American high schools for free.
Debranythira Joliun, 18, said that she applied for YES program to experience life in the United States.
“I want to experience the different celebrations there, the ones not celebrated in Malaysia
like Martin Luther King Jr. Day,” said the Sabahan who added that she also loved the different
American accents.“I also heard they are more friendly than us!” added the Sabahan,
who will be in Ohio.
Anis Sofia Azman, 18, from Seremban, said: “I love to travel, so this programme not only gives me a chance to travel to a country I have never been in before, it also gives me a chance to immerse myself in a new culture.”
Anis wants to introduce Malaysia to her host family and new friends in Nevada, where she is headed. S. Lavania, 18, said the main draw for her to join the programme was to experience the American education system.
“I heard in the United States it’s flexible, you can choose the subjects you are most interested in and as I love history, I want to learn U.S. history,” said Lavania, who lives in Selangor.
U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Edgard Kagan said the programme is close to his heart, as it has benefited both countries.
“As a country, we benefit tremendously – the host families, the communities they will live in, the schools – from getting the perspective from people from different countries,” said Kagan.
He added that the youths undergoing the programme would learn valuable lessons from the programme.
The YES program has been running in Malaysia for more than 10 years and over 461 youths have participated in it.
Antarabudaya Malaysia (AFS Malaysia) is the administrator of the programme in Malaysia, working with the U.S. Embassy.
Youths under the programme receive full scholarship while in the United States, as the programme is funded by the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. State Department.
Top Photo: Farewell luncheon hosted by the U.S. Embassy