Hikaru Hayakawa is a gap-year YES Abroad student from Livingston, New Jersey hosted this year at Gimnazija Orce Nikolov in Skopje. Having never hosted a U.S. exchange student before, the school has an amazing experience with Hikaru. He immediately won the hearts of his teachers and classmates with his polite nature and big smile.
Outside of his role as youth ambassador, Hikaru is also socially very active as an individual and participated in many activities with his classmates. On February 20, 2020, Hikaru was invited to read a poem at the 70th Anniversary of the Institute of the Macedonian Language.
After the event, Hikaru shared: “For us YES Abroaders, we often head abroad planning to step outside of our comfort zone. In Skopje, I found that there were many opportunities to do so. In February 2020, my teacher approached me to ask if I would like to read a poem for International Mother Language Day at the Institute of Macedonian Language. Without a doubt, I said yes! Of course, it was nerve-racking, but I practiced my poem, introduced myself in Macedonian, and recited it in front of the Mayor of Skopje and several other influential figures. At the end of the day, I learned, gained self-confidence, and make new connections. Skopje, as the capital city of North Macedonia, has many opportunities for youth, and I have found that being open to new, safe, and positive opportunities has helped me grow as a person and learn about my host community. By saying “YES” to my teacher, I achieved several of the goals I had in mind when I first decided to say “YES” to YES Abroad!”
Hikaru is a student who is fully committed to the mission and goals of citizen diplomacy and the YES Abroad program.