YES in Southeast Europe Application Information

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Testing schedule for YES 2017


Find Out About This Exchange Program with the United States

“Exchanges can break down walls between us, for when people come together and speak to one another and share a common experience, then their common humanity is revealed. We are reminded that we’re joined together by our pursuit of a life that’s productive and purposeful, and when that happens mistrust begins to fade and our smaller differences no longer overshadow the things that we share. And that’s where progress begins.”

-President Barack Obama


What does youth exchange achieve?
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The concept of exchange programs grew out of a desire for nations and their peoples to build bridges of understanding after World War II. Since then, the youth exchange movement has become well known and accepted in many countries throughout the world. What makes youth exchange successful is the unique way in which young people learn about another country and culture: by living as a member of a host family, not as a guest. The success of this formula has resulted in a global awareness of the positive impact of exchange, not only on relations among nations, but on the lives of hundreds of thousands of participants, their peers, schools, communities, and parents. Many of today’s world, national, and local leaders have themselves participated in an exchange experience and can attest to its positive impact on their lives.
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2017-18 YES BrochureWhat is the YES program?
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The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program was established by Congress in October 2002 in response to the events of September 11, 2001. The program is funded through the U.S. Department of State and sponsored by the Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs (ECA) to provide scholarships for high school students to spend up to one academic year in the U.S.

Students live with host families, attend high school, engage in activities to learn about American society and values, acquire leadership skills, and help educate Americans about their countries and cultures.

Secondary school students with disabilities are invited to participate in the competition. Approximately 15 students with disabilities are invited to the U.S. under this program each year. Selected students with disabilities meet the same criteria as other participants in the program.

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 was launched in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2012, 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 and Bulgarian, 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.
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What does the scholarship provide?
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The YES scholarship provides the following:
• Round-trip domestic and international travel (from home to the United States and back)
• Monthly allowance to help students participate in social activities and buy necessary personal supplies
• Placement with a selected and screened U.S. host family for one year
• Enrollment in a U.S. secondary school
• Program orientation activities including preprogram preparation, U.S. orientations, and re-entry preparation
• Program activities arranged in local U.S. communities
• Medical insurance, excluding pre-existing conditions and dental care
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What is NOT provided?
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The YES scholarship does NOT cover the following costs:
• Any costs associated with receiving an international passport
• Personal expenses not covered by the monthly stipend
• Excess baggage costs
• Telephone calls or internet use, including acces to email
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2017-18 YES Brochure-2Who pays for the program?
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This scholarship program is fully funded by the United States government and administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State. ECA fosters understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries around the world. ECA programs include educational and training programs that promote personal, professional, and institutional ties between private citizens and organizations in the United States and abroad.

The YES program is supported at the local level by U.S. citizens and local secondary schools that voluntarily host, educate, and support students with no financial compensation.
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Who is eligible to apply to the program?
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In keeping with the U.S. Government sponsored initiatives dedicated to promoting greater understanding between countries, the competition for the YES scholarship is merit-based and open at no cost to applicants who meet the following requirements.

According to the current rules, applicants eligible to apply in fall 2017 for the school year 2018/19 will need to:

1. Be born between January  1, 2001 and July 15, 2003.

2. Meet the grade requirements set for their country.

Albania 10th or 11th grade of high school in fall 2017

Bosnia and Herzegovina 1st or 2nd year of high school in fall 2017

Bulgaria 9th or 10th grade of high school in fall 2017

Kosova 10th or 11th year of secondary school in fall 2017

Macedonia 1st or 2nd year of high school in fall 2017

3. Be enrolled in a secondary school at the time of application

4. Have an academic standing of good or better

5. Not have graduated from secondary school prior to the program start date.

6. Have previously studied English and demonstrate English language ability at the time of registration

7. Meet U.S. visa eligibility requirements

8. Be able to receive an international passport in the country where they apply to the program where they apply to the program

Students with disabilities must be enrolled in secondary school in the fall of 2017 and be born between February 15, 2000 and July 15, 2003.
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Who is not eligible?
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A student is ineligible to apply if:
• S/he does not meet criteria 1-8
• S/he has stayed in the U.S. for three (3) months or more during the past five (5) years
• His/her family (or member of family):
○ Applied or is applying to emigrate to the U.S.
○ Made plans to emigrate or has already emigrated to the U.S.
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When and how can I apply?
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Representatives of American Councils will visit the regions within the participating countries to conduct testing during fall 2017. Applicants should come to the designated testing center at the time of initial registration and bring proof of eligibility (birth certificate), one recent 3×4 cm photo, and a black pen. Applicants may only participate in round 1 testing at ONE test center in fall 2017. All applicants will take a short English test (round 1). Those who pass the first test will write a composition in English (round 2, which usually occurs on the day after round 1).  Applicants may only participate in round 1 testing at ONE test center in fall 2017.

All applicants will take a short English test (round 1). Those who pass the first test will write a composition in English (round 2, which usually occurs on the day after round 1). Candidates must successfully complete the first two rounds of the competition before they receive final application materials, take a longer English language proficiency test, and are interviewed.

Albania:
Testing dates and locations will be announced in September 2017. For more information, call +355 2235 347 or e-mail tirana@americancouncilssee.org

Bosnia and Herzegovina:

Testing dates and locations will be announced in September 2017. For more information, call +387 33 838 262 or e-mail sarajevo@americancouncilssee.org

Bulgaria:

Testing dates and locations will be announced in September 2017. For more information, call +359 87 7333013 or e-mail sofia@americancouncilssee.org

Kosova:

Testing dates and locations will be announced in September 2017. For more information, call +381 38 226 255 or e-mail fjolla@americancouncilssee.org

Macedonia:

Testing dates and locations will be announced in September 2017. For more information, call +389 2 30 76 522 or e-mail skopje@americancouncilssee.org
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How are students selected?
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Independent panels of American professionals in education and international relations in the United States will select program finalists and alternates. Selection will be based on merit as evidenced in a comprehensive application, teacher reference, and demonstrated preparedness for a year-long exchange experience. Students also will be required to provide medical evaluations and be certified as medically fit to participate in the program.

The selection process will be completed in spring 2018, and all applicants will receive notification of their status by mid-May 2018. English-language proficiency is important but it is not the sole element in selection.
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What happens after notification?
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Upon notification, finalists, alternates and their parents will receive information to prepare them for departure. They must officially notify their YES representative in writing that they accept the scholarship and must provide any additional documentation requested as well. Students must begin the process of applying for an international passport and U.S. visa immediately upon acceptance to the program. The YES program will instruct participants on the process of applying for a U.S. visa.

From May through August 2018, selected U.S. exchange organizations will match finalists with qualified U.S. host families and arrange for enrollment in local secondary schools. In June and July 2018, scholarship recipients will participate in a pre-program orientation in their home country. Students will then travel to U.S.-based orientation and then to their U.S. host families and communities to begin the exchange experience in August 2018.

Please note: Students participating in the YES program must return to their home country at the end of the program on the date assigned by American Councils. The U.S. visa issued for program participants will not be amended or extended beyond the program end date for any reason.
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How will I benefit from the exchange experience?
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The YES program offers students an opportunity to learn about the people and culture of the United States. YES participants are also young ambassadors who teach Americans about the people and culture of their countries. Students gain an appreciation for and develop sensitivity to other cultures, experience personal growth and independence, and become better prepared for an increasingly interdependent world. Students form strong ties with their American host families and U.S. communities, building relationships that often last a lifetime. Many alumni attend prestigious universities upon their return home, and later find exciting jobs that use skills learned during their stay in the United States.
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2017-18 YES Brochure-3What should you consider before applying to YES?
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Students who are interested in this program should consider the possible negative effects of this program:
• Will I have to repeat a year of school after returning home?
• Will I be home too late in 2019 to take final school examinations/university/institute entrance examinations? YES students return to their communities in late May and June.
• Will my university or institute defer my admission if I have already been accepted?
• Will I be required to serve in the military upon return?
• Will I be eligible to graduate with honors/receive a gold medal at my home school?
Finally, although students attend a U.S. high school, the curriculum is substantially different from that in other countries, and likely you will not learn the same subject material.
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Who organizes the program?
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American Councils for International Education organizes recruitment, selection, orientation, and travel arrangements for the YES program in South East Europe. Founded in 1974, American Councils is an international non-profit organization working to improve mutual understanding between countries, exchange ideas among individuals, and enhance collaboration through education. It designs, implements, and supports innovative programs in the United States, Europe, Eurasia, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

Over the past 40 years, American Councils has become one of the premier U.S. international education and training organizations. It administers more than 30 exchange and training programs, including several U.S. government programs for secondary school students, university and graduate students, teachers, and professors. American Councils has professionally administered academic, professional and cultural programs for tens of thousands of participants from Afghanistan, Africa, Eurasia, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Southeast Europe. Many other private, non-profit organizations in the United States also support the YES program. The U.S. government has asked these organizations to place YES participants in supportive U.S. host families and to organize local activities during the year-long program.
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