YES Student Honored as Homecoming King

By Igor Stojkov ’20, currently on program in U.S.


Hello everyone, my name is Igor Stojkov and I come from North Macedonia. I have just started my exchange year, but however, I experienced a thousands of different things and feelings. I was really nervous and excited about coming to the United States of America, in the beautiful state of New Hampshire. I was prepared for everything, but I could not imagine that I will end up being homecoming king !

Igor Stojkov '20 and his host family shortly after arrival

Igor Stojkov ’20 and his host family shortly after arrival

I arrived at the airport in Manchester, New Hampshire and I met my host family. My host family and I were screaming out of happiness and when we arrived home, I was beyond surprised by the beauty of Northwood and New Hampshire. I had a lot of different expectations, concerns and feelings. But, when I met my host family for the first time, I just knew that we will get along really well. And that happened. I think that I am the first exchange student ever who got injured on his second day of his exchange year. Yes, I did that. I twisted my ankle and it was so painful. I had to see a doctor, and thankfully, nothing was broken. My host family were so caring and they helped me a lot. It was my first visit to an American urgent care and my first x-ray ever. Even though I was in pain, everything went good and I will have really interesting story to tell about the first days of my exchange year. On Labour Day, we went to the lake and I tried tubing, which was really fun and it was an amazing experience for me. And that is not the most exciting part.

Homecoming King Igor and his Queen

Homecoming King Igor and his Queen

My first day of school was on 4th of September. I have missed about 2 weeks of school, so I had to work more in order to catch up what I have missed. Also, homecoming was a thing that everyone talked about. When I stepped into my host school called Coe-Brown Northwood Academy , everyone knew about me and everyone were so friendly with me. I easily made friends. However, I could never imagine what will happen next. Homecoming was on Friday and Saturday (13 and 14 of September) and I was invited to the dance. I have seen more than 20 American High School movies in which they have prom or homecoming where they vote for a king and a queen, and that was so exciting for me. I was not really sure how to vote and for who. Group of people approached me and told me that they voted for me. I was so happy to hear that, but I did not expect to end up being actually the king of the homecoming. It was 9:30pm and the boy that was in charge of the dance announced me and said that I won the Homecoming crown and that 100% of the votes were for me. I could not believe what I heard. That was the most emotional and one of the best moments in my life. More than 100 kids from the school voted for me even though I was in the school for just 2 weeks. I had a dance with the Homecoming queen and it was so emotional and beautiful.

I am so happy that I am doing this !



By Behar Bunjaku, YES 2017-2018, Kosovo, hosted by CIEE in Palestine, TX

On March 27, 2019, YES alumni from Kosova organized the fourth edition of Kosovo Slam Poetry at the Institute of History in Prishtina, Kosovo. Nine young poets performed their spoken poetry in front of a live audience of more than 130 people.

“If I have got to be frank, at first I didn’t even know what Slam Poetry was,” one participant admitted. “From ‘slamming the door,’ I knew ‘slam’ meant moving against a surface with force and a loud noise…thus [I assumed] we would probably be loudly addressing our feelings for certain issues through our original poems.” This participant’s assumption was more correct than he knew! The main goal of  Kosovo Slam Poetry is to give a platform to young poets from Kosovo to express their thoughts in the form of spoken poetry in front of a live audience. As organizers, we believe that the first step towards solving a problem is being aware of the problem, hence the theme of our Kosovo Slam Poetry event was “Issues You See in Your Community.” Through Kosovo Slam Poetry we were able to raise awareness of many issues with a diverse group of people as part of the audience.

Kosova Kosovo Slam Poetry First Workshop

All nine poets participated in two pre-event workshops on March 20 and 26, where they had the opportunity to get to know each other and work with mentors Michaela Washington (a Peace Corps Volunteer, English teacher, and poet) and Verona Kardiu (last year’s Kosovo Slam Poetry winner) on further developing their poems and practicing their stage performances. As a previous participant of Kosovo Slam Poetry, Verona shared her experience and tips to help poets overcome their apprehension. A powerful highlight from the pre-event workshops was how keen the organizers and the participants were to know each other’s views on different matters. Even during meals we would discuss important historical movements and express our opinions on them.

On the day of the competition, jury members Arber Selmani (poet and journalist), Megan Fisk (Head of the English department at International Business College Mitrovica), and Adelina Tershani (Kosovo Slam Poetry second edition participant) selected 18-year-old Yllza Murtezi as the winner for her poem “Soul Sisters,” which tackles the problem of prejudgment. She started her poem: “So, we are prone to judge others / Based on their gender, skin color, nationality, economic status or even their skills / All we want is to judge.” She was inspired to write about this topic after being judged negatively by her peers for having a pen-pal friend from South Africa. She later explains in her poem the benefits she gained from knowing someone from another part of the world: “In the science class, I raise my hand / Since you have taught me that the first heart transplant happened in your country.”

During the competition, all the poems performed were translated into sign language for members of the hearing impaired community, who were invited to attend the event.

Having witnessed their passion and hard work, we congratulate and thank all the participants for the effort and emotion they put into distinguishing our project as a valuable contribution to the community.

This year’s Kosovo Slam Poetry competition was organized by: Visar Zeka (YES ’15); YES ’17: Anda Rama and Altin Kondirolli; and YES ’18: Behar Bunjaku, Nita Bashota, Shkurte Berisha, and Riola Morina.

Alumni in Kosova use creativity to help the community

By Arbresha Beqiri, YES 2016-2017, hosted by American Councils in Cedar Falls, IA

Over the course of three weeks in November, I held four workshops on addressing community issues through art with 23 seventh grade students at Muharrem Shemsedini Middle School in the suburbs of Ferizaj with help from Visar Zeka (YES 2014-2015 hosted by AYUSA in Prosper, TX) and Andolin Sylejmani, the seventh grade class advisor. I called the program “Creativity and Community.” This was an unforgettable experience that will remain with me and with the children who participated for a very long time.

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Students brainstormed about issues that impact their community.

During each workshop, participants developed critical thinking and debating skills through discussions on topics such as “Is life better in a village or a city?” and “Should animals be used to test new products?” Each discussion was followed by an opportunity for participants to express their thoughts and feelings through painting and drawing. It was amazing from my side to see how the children understood these topics, and how they could come up with so many ideas and different drawings and paintings to explain how they saw various issues from their perspective.

During our last workshop, participants worked together in groups of five or six on a topic they chose themselves: “Should students be legally responsible for bullying?” They put all their ideas on a big paper using words, drawings, and stickers. We concluded the workshop by discussing what part of the workshop was their favorite over pizza. “It was awesome that we could do all this fun stuff: paint, draw and work on groups about topics that we liked,” one participant reflected. Another praised the program as a “chance to talk and express my thoughts, [which] I usually don’t do,” citing a preference for drawing and painting over conversation.

Students created paintings that expressed their perspectives on issues in their community.

Most of the participants, however, started the program with the phrase, “I am not good at drawing or painting.” By the end of the program, participants were certain that they could use art in so many different ways. “I [previously] thought that you have to have talent,” one participant explained. “but [now] I understand that you can do so much with art, more than we think.”

This project was inspired by my participation in the IDEAL Workshop for YES and FLEX alumni held in Prishtina, Kosovo, in March 2018, where I was a participant in the “Utilizing the Arts as a Tool for Social Change” theme group. The project was also supported by the 2018 IDEAL Workshop grants program funded by the U.S. Embassy in Prishtina.

Appreciation level-unmatched

laurenby Lauren Leadbetter YES abroad Bulgaria ’18

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In the past few months, I’ve been given the opportunity to travel outside of Bulgaria and see some of the places that travelers in Sofia often talk about. Outside of Sofia, it didn’t take long for me to begin reminiscing on the charm and small luxuries Sofia has. Small luxuries like streets rarely requiring a cross light giving pedestrians the right of way to cross wherever the pavement is striped. Or having a diverse collection of architecture in the city (caused by a fascinating history and recent economic growth) with the styles mixing in an informal fashion but they’re unified by the charm of incredible graffiti or small specialty shops that cover the ground floor of most central buildings. Huge mountains for hiking and skiing are only a city bus ride away. There are so many beautiful and practical fountains constantly running with mineral water for the people to use as they wish. The list of assets feels endless while strolling around the city on any day of the year.

So many of the aspects of life in Sofia and Bulgaria feel really special, especially with accompaniment by features in the infrastructure that are hard to find anywhere else in the world. Just as I encountered feelings of longing to return to Sofia, many Bulgarians share with me that they experience the same feelings for all the same reasons and more.

The most common question when meeting new Bulgarians is “How are you finding Bulgaria?” When I respond that I’m happy every single day I wake up here, most smile and talk about the best things Bulgaria has and how much it gives to Europe and the rest of the world. However, their admiration is frequently followed by how hard it is to properly promote and share the country’s facets with the rest of the world because of internal issues like a decreasing population, a shrinking workforce, and an absence of comprehensive legislation.

Bulgarians living here commonly tell me how easy and popular for Bulgarians to leave the country for university or to gain work experience, and then continue their lives outside of Bulgaria free of the difficulties present with life in Bulgaria. I have so much admiration and respect for Bulgarians for sharing with me how their lives here must be so that one day their country can be holistically incredible for visitors and residents.

It is always understood that I love Bulgaria, and it has felt like most other people here share that feeling too.  The people living here are wanting to share with the world and grant Bulgaria all of the recognition it deserves, as a country capable of seemingly everything and should compete with other global top travel destinations. The zeal for an amplified Bulgaria is unmatched by any other movement or cause I’ve ever seen, so much so that even my classmates talk about their life plans to enhance their country.

Though my short trips outside of the city were on a much smaller scale, I understand the feelings that motivate Bulgarians for their entire lives. I understand why the tram driver keeps all of the Bulgarian flags in the front windows. I see why the worker at my local market watches me place seemingly typical cucumbers in my bag, then he comes and replaces them with Bulgarian grown ones while shouting the Bulgarian national anthem.   I appreciate people that have share hidden information on the status of Bulgaria upon our first interaction. I have great admiration and appreciation for the aspects of my experiences in Sofia, from the open people to just crossing the street every day on my way home. I appreciate all of it.


My first two months in USA

-by Alex Dzhebarov, YES 18-19

Hello, my name is Alex Dzhebarov and since two months I live in the sunny city of Pueblo, Colorado. On 21st of August I arrived in the US and honestly every day I’ve spent here has been an amazing adventure. During these two months which passed so quickly I did number of things I never thought I would do. I wanted to come to the US and become a YES scholar for so long but I never imagined that my experience here will be that awesome. I can’t even chose what to start with.

I’m amazed with so many things and the American life keeps surprising me with something new every day. During the last month I had two Spirit weeks in school – weeks during which the students dress differently every day. Every day had a theme and people dressed as construction workers, cowboys and wizards were going around the school. I’ve never imagined that I would go to school dressed like that. At the end of the first week my school had an American football game against the other big school in the city. Both schools have an old rivalry so the students go watch the game and support their school’s team. Everybody was dressed in the school colors and cheered for our team. Before this night I’ve only had seen something like that on the movies. That was my best night in America so far because it wasn’t even like on the movies, it was way better. The other spirit week was Homecoming week. Homecoming is the first school dance for the year. The whole school cafeteria in my school was decorated and turned into one big dance floor where everybody was dressed up and dancing. I went with my friends and had so much fun. The day before there was another American football game I went to. I love going to the games and feeling the energy of the crowd and the school spirit going around.


I’m really surprised how different the schools in America are and I still can’t believe I go to one of them. I love my school and every Sunday I look forward to the upcoming Monday to go to school and see my friends. For these two months I visited number of places in my state and soon I’m going on a trip to Kentucky with my host mother. I was on my school’s tennis team and recently I joined two clubs. I did 55 community service hours and became a student of the month. I found many new friends here, but my first American friend was my host family’s dog – Cooper. I’ve never been around animals and now I have three cats, two dogs, a ferret and a lizard! I needed some time to get used to all of them but now I can’t imagine my American life without them. My host parents are awesome and support me in everything, I’m really grateful to be hosted by them. They are not just my host parents, but also I feel them like really close friends I can sit and talk for hours with. Next week is Halloween and I and my host parents already picked pumpkins from a field so we can carve them and decorate the house for the holiday. I’m so excited because Halloween is just the beginning of the holiday season and after it there are Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year waiting to be celebrated.

I can still remember how excited I was just before one year, filling my application and imaging how I could experience all of that. Before I even realized that it was happening I was on the plane, crossing the ocean and starting to live my American dream. If you also want your American dream to become true, say Yes to YES and apply online at until 31 October


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The life-changing journey called YES

Story from Shebi Niazi about the connection between her exchange year in the United States and the University of UAE, but also about all the other things that happened to her after she came back from America – thanks to the valuable experience she received from the YES program.


-by Shebi Niazi, YES Alumna 13-14

Many exchange students describe their year abroad in the United States as a “life-changing” one. And often it sounds like a cliché. How can a single year play such a crucial role in one’s life? How can a single year determine one’s future? Here is how it did mine.

In 2013, after competing with hundreds of high school students in Bulgaria in a series of interviews and tests, I was chosen to be one of the six finalists for the “Kennedy-Lugar” Youth Exchange & Study (YES) program for the 2013-2014 academic year. During my stay in the USA, I participated in myriad events and volunteering opportunities; I took classes that I wouldn’t have been able to do so in my home country; I was involved in extracurricular activities that enriched me academically and personally beyond measure.

shebi. nyuad

Two of the most important aspects of my exchange year were the people I met and the diversity I was exposed to. Being placed in a diverse seminar with students from all over the world, I developed a sensibility regarding the vicissitudes of cultural stereotyping and misunderstanding. Every discussion on pressing global issues was equally nuanced with the perspective of my peers from Israel, India, Pakistan, Tanzania, etc. From each I learned and to each I adopted. Checking CNN World news became part of my daily routine. Examining tensions between local ways of life with deep historical, linguistic, ethnic and religious roots and today’s transnational cultures and multiple identities, was what excited me.

After returning from the USA my passion to understand the multifaceted interconnectedness among nation-states, international institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and ethnic, cultural, and religious groups never faded away. I was awarded a scholarship from Connecting Cultures, one of the world’s leading civil society initiatives aiming to bridge the Western and Arab world through the power of dialogue. I spent one week in Oman exploring cultural differences and discussing the issues of peace with young female leaders from Europe and the Middle East. At the end of my senior year in high school I attended the YES Alumni Interfaith Harmony Conference in Rabat, Morocco. Using the skills and knowledge gained from such educational initiatives, I organized several peacebuilding workshops both in my school and community. I implemented an interfaith cross-country collaboration event in Bulgaria called “Letters of Hope to Refugees”. The campaign’s goal was to provide messages of support and solidarity from around the world to asylum seekers in Bulgaria. The project ended up having over 1,200 participants from 5 continents and 18 countries.

I was first introduced to volunteering in my exchange year in the United States where I completed more than 100 hours of community service. In 2014 I became a part of the YES Alumni Association. The goals of the YES Alumni Program are to expand on and practice what YES students have learned during their exchange year by implementing various projects. The projects I have participated in include: making handmade jewelry and Christmas cards for charity; participating in the nationwide eco-campaign “Let’s Clean Bulgaria in one Day!”; spreading love with the “Love Note Project”; organizing activities for International Children’s day; informing others about the merits of vegetarianism; participating in campaigns to address HIV/AIDS prevention, etc. My worldview was broadened by another volunteering opportunity in rural Sing Buri, Thailand where I taught English and helped with the construction work at the Sri Udam orphanage. I managed to fundraise to travel to Thailand by using all the techniques I had learned in the United States. All of the aforementioned activities taught me how to become an active citizen not only in my home country but also in every other community around the world that I choose to join.

After my graduation from high school I was presented the wonderful opportunity to work for a year as an Alumni Coordinator at American Councils for International Education. It was so much more than just working in an office setting, managing email overloads, tracking on alumni activity spending, filling timesheets, writing budget proposals, submitting monthly reports. Being able to strengthen the alumni community, to help its members bring their ideas to reality, to organize projects that make a difference and to see the impact of our actions- whether it’s the smile of an old lady at a soup kitchen or the warm thank you of a stranger, is what makes the existence of the YES Alumni community worthwhile.

Where are you now and what are you doing, you will ask. As of now, I am attending the New York University in Abu Dhabi on a full ride scholarship. I am pursuing my bachelor’s degree in Social Research and Public Policy. NYU Abu Dhabi is one of the most selective liberal arts colleges in the world, with an admission rate of around 3%. The student body is arguably the most selective and internationally diverse one. My peers come from all around the globe and bring their unique perspectives with them. Being part of the community of NYU Abu Dhabi is a dream come true and a great honor. It is an important stage in my life that I wouldn’t have come close to without my exchange year in the United States that sparked my interest in international education. My year in the USA taught me how to appreciate human diversity, how to create and maintain meaningful social ties, how to invest my time and energy in developing myself professionally and personally, and above all else how to strive to make an impact somewhere somehow. I am beyond thankful for having had the opportunity to be an exchange student. All I had to do was say “YES”. And I believe that you can do it, too!


Apply now for YES scholarship if you want to live and study in USA for the 2019-2020 academic year on:

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Life is all about exploring!

A short story about life from Mirsolav Pehlev currently on YES exchange in Howell, Michigan, USA

-by Miroslav Pehlev, YES 18-19


‘Life is all about exploring’ That is what always leads my curiosity. I will never forget how I became an exchange student. It was a long, but more than exciting process. A year ago I didn’t even imagine how far this application might send me, as well as how much I can grow as a person. Yes, the YES program literally does it. And our mission as YES students is to keep going and develop our interests while on exchange.


I already spent a month since I arrived in the US. And I cannot stop being amazed how many opportunities our host communities provide. The only thing I was not keen on was the cold weather in my state. But it doesn’t matter at all, because here everything is so beautiful. And leaving these things apart, I would like to mention that there is nothing to do about the placements. It’s all about the kind people you will meet, the friendships you will make, the unforgettable moments you will remember and the passionate and caring host families. Nevertheless, being a part of the YES community is more than exciting. I can’t describe how many awesome new people I met since I participate. But what mostly makes me happy, is the fact that I started this journey successfully.

There is no doubt that the American high school is providing so many opportunities for exchange students. No matter where we are, there will always be something for us. And if not, then we can create it on our own. This is how me and my friend – an exchange student from Kyrgyzstan, decided to make a Russian club together. This year my high school introduced to its students something new – a weekly class for self-related activities, in which we can write our homework, study for tests, ask for help from teachers or just relax, all this in the middle of the day. But as long as some long-term clubs emerged during this hour, taking place once a week, we found a fabulous opportunity and potential in that gap between classes. Shortly after we started attending it, our proposal for a Russian language club was admitted by the office and they even found a sponsoring teacher for us. Very soon we had the number of students needed for our club. Finally, I can say that this plan will hopefully be realized in a week and I can’t wait to see what is going to happen.

I’d like to encourage all the future and present exchange students, who are reading this, not to be afraid from the unknown that is expecting them in this vast and diverse country. You are chosen to become a part of the YES family for your abilities – and here you can show what you are capable of. Teach people about your culture, travel when possible, eat new food, hang out with friends and enjoy the small moments, even if there is something not that special. Be thankful for everything you have, and don’t forget to share the best moments you experience with your host family, because they are your closest ones here. And of course, say yes to YES.


Apply now for YES scholarship if you want to live and study in USA for the 2018-2019 academic year on:

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My high school experience in USA!

Alper Ahmed article

Short story about high school experiences in Baldwin City, Kansas.

-by Alper Ahmed, YES Alumni 17-18

My name is Alper Ahmed and I am a YES Alumni from generation 18′. I was placed in Baldwin City, Kansas and went to Baldwin High School. For American teenagers high school takes a huge part of their daily lives from sports and extracurricular activities to homework and papers you need to get done. It’s the same way with exchange students, the only difference is you can use the excuse “I’m an exchange student” for anything.

Finding friends can be difficult in a completely new environment but one of the best possible ways to do so is by joining sports and clubs. Different schools have different sports and clubs. The Fall sports for boys that my school offered were soccer (football) and Cross Country (CC). I joined the cross country team and really got to understand what a team spirit really means. A lot of sports have daily practices and CC was one of them. Every sport has meets, competitions or tournaments against other schools from the area and state. They could start as early as 6 A.M which could mean waking up at 4 A.M, getting ready and traveling an hour.

If playing a sport is not your strength, the coaches are always looking for managers who could help out the team and make it easier for everyone. This is exactly what I did during the winter season. I’m not good in basketball nor can I wrestle, so I managed basketball for the girls. I would have to fill up water bottles, run the game clock, keep the score, etc. Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the U.S.A and that’s also true for high school and schools love playing against each other, so we had almost two or 3 meets each week during the Basketball season. Spring sports season is the one that gives you most options, at least in my school. I decided to take part in Tennis and I very much enjoyed it. The only downside that it had was the Spring sport season being far shorter than the Fall and Winter ones.

There are many possibilities for becoming a part of a club depending on your interests. Art, public speaking, crafts, FBLA, Stand up to Cancer, international club, anime, scholar’s bowl, etc.

American Football: where all the students gather in one section of the tribune, dress coded in their most outrageous but at the same time amusing outfits that they have. And that happens at many other sport events where the students want to show their support for their team. Being a part of an audience of this kind was also one of the many reasons how I got to understand and really take upon myself the team spirit that American high school students have.

Another, really fun and exciting part about the schools in America is the DANCES. Back to School, The Homecoming Dance, the Halloween Dance, Winter Formal, etc. The school dances are probably the funniest and most entertaining thing that you could be a part of in a school cafeteria. This is when you could Whip and Nae Nae and listen to the best hip hop hits from the 00s while dancing in your Halloween costume. The school dances are an irreplaceable part of the American high school experience. Before every major dance there is something called Spirit Week, where each day of the week the students are supposed to be dressed with specific outfits which could be PJ day, Fashion disaster day, Funny socks day and many more.

If I was to tell you all the things about American High Schools it would probably take me days, that is why you need to apply for the YES program and try your best at getting to experience it all your way first hand. Thank you for your attention!


Apply now for YES scholarship if you want to live and study in USA for the 2018-2019 academic year on:

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My amazing host family in USA!

Eli Stoeva Article
Short story about the excellent relationship between one YES student from Bulgaria and her Host family in San Antonio, Texas during 2016/2017 season.

-by Ellie Stoeva, YES Alumni 16-17

Hi, my name is Ellie Stoeva and I am one of the lucky students from Bulgaria who won a full scholarship from the YES Program to go and study in the United States for a year in 2016/2017. My placement organization was ASSE and I was hosted in San Antonio, Texas by the wonderful family of Jason, Cherie and Claire Gilmore.

My entire year was incredible and full of breath-taking moments. I got to learn about the American culture, make new friends and try new things in the coolest high school in the world- Louis D. Brandeis. I consider myself to be the luckiest girl in the world for getting this opportunity, but I am most grateful for having such an amazing host family.

The Gilmores took me as one of their own and treated me like a family member from the very first moment we got in contact. We shared passions for the same movies and activities like Harry Potter and theatre. They would help me with anything and everything throughout the year and give me the best advice possible. My host father is the funniest person I’ve ever gotten the chance to meet, my host mom is probably the wisest and most inspiring person in my life and my host sister was so lively and full of curiosity and goodness. Probably my favourite memories with them must be the times they would play pranks on me. One time I was coming home from babysitting with my best friend and I found my room all covered in paper notes, balloons and ribbons. It took me and my friend an hour to clean up and unpack every single one of the items I owned that was also wrapped in wrapping paper. It was the most hilarious thing that has ever happened to me!

My host family also had a very love and caring side too. They were very interested in and had great respect for my culture. They were always excited to try the traditional Bulgarian meals I made. My host dad really loved Bulgarian banitsa and one time when I was making it and apologised for it taking so long he simply said: “It’s Ok, you can’t rush art”. For my name day they decorated my room and our kitchen table on theme with my favourite movie Beauty and the Beast – they covered my room floor with rose petals and made special rose vases for our table. In return I cooked traditional Bulgarian foods like – “banitsa, sarmi, shopska salata and mlqko s oriz”. We all enjoyed the delicious food at a special dinner for my name day. To say that they were incredible people would be an understatement. They supported me throughout the year, taught me how to be more confident and love myself, be more open minded and fight against injustice in the world. I am so happy I have them in my life and still keep in contact with them to this day.

I am so lucky and grateful to the YES Program for granting me with the amazing opportunity to study and live in America for a year, create life-long connections with people and be able to call the amazing Jason, Cherie and Claire my second family. I encourage everyone to apply to get a chance for a taste of this incredible experience.


Apply now for YES scholarship if you want to live and study in USA for the 2018-2019 academic year on:

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ENAM SPRING BOOTCAMP, MY EXPERIENCE -Elitsa Stoeva YES Alumna ’17IMG_20180415_004120_569 FB_IMG_1523818296448 received_1833078473403989

















“Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” – Henry Ford

Recently, I had the huge honour to represent the U.S.-Bulgaria Alumni Associations and more specifically the YES Program, together with Kirilka Angelova, Project Manager for the Junior Achievement Organization in Bulgaria, at the ENAM Spring Bootcamp in Cagliari, Italy.

ENAM (European Network of American Alumni Associations) was founded in 2010 and is a permanent coordination unit of more than 65 American Alumni Associations established in the region-Europe and Euro-Asia. Its mission is to promote all the cultural exchange programs administered by the Department of State and bilateral commissions alike, by designing and implementing through its member organizations projects and initiatives such as conferences, seminars, workshops, awards, information campaigns, editorial products and other. IVLP/ VOLVIS and Fulbright are some of the bigger alumni association members of ENAM.

During the 3-day Bootcamp me and the other participants had the opportunity to learn more about leadership, management, team building and additionally did case studies on previous successful projects implemented in different European and Euro-Asian countries. In our free time we managed to get to know each other, exchange personal and work experience, talk about important problems that each one is trying to solve and battle in our countries and communities such as gender inequality, racism, discrimination, social and political injustice, etc.

At the end of the Bootcamp I felt inspired by all the amazing participants to work harder in my community and solve the existing problems. I am thankful to the YES Program, U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, the U.S.- Bulgaria Alumni association and ENAM, for this incredible opportunity to establish connections with different countries in Europe/Euro-Asia to tackle together the problems that we all face. Because in the end, it does not matter how we are different, what matters is how we are alike. Our common goals and willingness to work together as a team to benefit the communities is what will help the world move forward.