The YES Abroad program was initiated as a reciprocal extension of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program for international students from countries with significant Muslim populations. The first group of Americans participated in YES Abroad in the 2009-2010 academic year. The program now offers 65 full scholarships across 12 countries to American students nationwide.
American Councils administers the YES Abroad program in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Bulgaria. the program launched in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 2014 in Macedonia, and in 2016 in Bulgaria. American students live with local host families and attend high school with local peers. Students also have the opportunity to study Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (BCS), Macedonian language and Bulgarian language and to explore their host country through cultural enhancement activities conducted throughout the academic year.
YES Abroad students in all YES Abroad countries serve as “youth ambassadors” of the U.S., promoting mutual understanding by forming lasting relationships with host families and communities. Students acquire leadership skills while engaging in activities to learn about the host country’s society and values, while educating others about American society and values.
The YES Abroad program is funded by the U.S. Department of State. The program is administered by a consortium of nonprofit organizations led by American Councils and including AFS-USA, AMIDEAST, and iEARN-USA.