The U.S. Department of State is celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program. The YES program was started in the in the wake of 9/11 to bring youth from Muslim communities around the world to the U.S. for a year-long secondary school exchange. To date, over 6,000 high school students from more than 45 countries have participated in the YES program. In 2009, the Department of State began the YES Abroad program, to send American students abroad to countries including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mali, Morocco, Oman, Thailand, South Africa, and Turkey. Both programs promote democracy, civic engagement, and national security by building long-lasting ties with the next generation of young leaders.
During their stay, YES international exchange students live with a volunteer American host family, engage with their communities, attend high school, share their culture, develop leadership skills, and learn about American society. Current participates come from around the world, including Albania, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Egypt, Gaza, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, West Bank, and Yemen.
Over 850 current students will join alumni, host families, and NGO-partners at events at the Department of State in the coming weeks to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the YES program. On June 20, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs will host a formal reception at the Ronald Regan Building with remarks by Ambassador Adam Ereli, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, and John Milewski, managing editor and host of Dialogue at the Wilson Center.