YES Alumni Story: My Story – Marina Hiohi (YES 2019-2020, Struga, N. Macedonia, placed by 4-H in Hugoton, KS)

Home / YES Alumni Story: My Story – Marina Hiohi (YES 2019-2020, Struga, N. Macedonia, placed by 4-H in Hugoton, KS)

A life changing experience filled with everlasting memories and personal growth – that is what the YES program represents to me. I can still clearly remember when I first saw my host family waiting for me at the airport, which marked the beginning of that new chapter in my life. From the moment I stepped out of the airplane, the excitement never left my body. So many chances, so many opportunities, and I was ready for it all.

I was placed in an amazing host family in Hugoton, a small town in Kansas. I attended Hugoton High School as a junior, and given that I was placed in a small town, my school felt like one giant family. My exchange year was a year of many “firsts”, attending my first Football game, first Spirit Week at school, first Homecoming Dance, first Thanksgiving… Everything was new, and I was always ready for new experiences. Joining clubs in my school, going to the football and basketball games, participating in the school activities, all of that helped me form many friendships and experience the Teenage American Dream. For 9 months, I had the chance to live a completely different lifestyle and learn so much. I volunteered and gave back to my host community, I grew as an individual, and I learned about American traditions while also giving an insight into my culture and country.

My favorite part of my exchange year? Well, I will never be able to choose just one. Trying new food, dressing up for Homecoming Week at school, going to class and seeing all of my wonderful teachers, spending time with my friends, celebrating holidays with my host family, being part of the Rowdy Crowd and cheering our team on, watching the pretty Kansas sunsets, going on long road trips with my host family, visiting the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Mexico… Every single moment helped me build the best exchange year I could have asked for, and I could not be more grateful.

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