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Student of the Month- Muhammad Umer Janjua.

Yes, it’s that time of the month when we present you with the most honorable mention for any exchange student on the forum; student of the month. This month, we are presenting you with the student who adjusted in his host environment very easily, made new friends from such a diverse culture, was elected as the Homecoming king and much more. His name is Muhammad Umer Janjua. Read about his great experience so far in his own words. 

“For me, transition from a Pakistani High school into a Private American Catholic High school was one of the

Imagemost exciting aspects of my exchange year, a journey I’ll surely cherish. Coming from where your teacher changes the classroom to where the moment the bell rings the hallways are flooded with students going to their next class, it was just one of the numerous new experiences I had. The people were very welcoming and embracing.  

The day I went for registration was quite a memorable one. After we were done with the paperwork, this kind lady took us for a tour around the school. After a visiting a couple of hallways and the gym, as impatient as I am, I asked her if I could go to an actual classroom. So, we just went into a random classroom (It was my future class) and I just went in with a big smile plastered across my face and just said, “Hi Guys!”. For a moment everybody stared at me and then instantly everybody burst into laughter and all of a sudden four guys come up, introduce themselves and shake my hands. The teacher, after being successful at getting calmed down after all the laughing, asked me if I was the exchange student they were expecting and that he could already think that we were going to have a good year. Later that night I went to the football game with those four guys.

From being the Homecoming King, getting casted in the fall play, being my school’s mascot, crazy Halloween parties to celebrating Eid with friends from school, High school has definitely been a highlight of my year so far.

Many exchange students are nervous when they’re going for their first day at school but for me it was more like, “Let’s Do This!”. Dressed up in my native attire I went about the hallways, with some people looking at the weird looking foreigner with confused gestures. In all my classes I introduced myself and got acquainted with the atmosphere. During break assembly, all the school got gathered for announcements and prayer. The announcer told everybody about me and instantly I grasped the opportunity to introduce myself. I got up and introduced myself with a couple of jokes here and there with it being a light and funny introduction. The response was amazing. Everybody was thrilled and moments ago in the same hallways where nobody was paying attention to me, now everybody was like, “Hey Umer!”, “How’s it going Umer?”, “Welcome to the States Umer!”. Now everybody in school knew me but I didn’t. It took me nearly a

 month to get all the names straight. I always seemed to confuse Brady and Briar though.

I also got elected as the Homecoming King as I had made friends pretty quickly. Being the Homecoming King was definitely an amazing experience and having the Homecoming Queen as your date definitely multiplies the thrill of being to a high school dance for the first time. The whole election process was very exciting and it was definitely a privilege to get elected as the Homecoming king.

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I’m a Muslim, my host family’s Mormon and I attend a Catholic School. This is as diverse as it gets. It’s definitely a big learning experience for me and I’m getting acquainted with a lot of different concepts and learning a lot. Attending the mass on Friday in school and then later going for Friday prayers to the mosque and then attending Mormon Church on Sunday is definitely a part of the package.

To be short, YES is the best thing that has happened to me yet. Everybody should ‘YES’ once in their lives and the world would be so much better. (The first picture’s my senior picture too)”

 

 

Hopefully you all enjoyed his journey just as much as we did. Did you learn anything? Good if you did and if you didn’t, make sure next time you read more carefully( even the sign boards on the way to McDonalds). Feel free to share your likes , dislikes, comments, questions in the comments down below or tweet us. You can also share your unique experiences with us and send it to our email address(written down below) to get featured on “ExchangeStudentStation”

Twitter: @ExchangeSs

Email: exchange_ss@hotmail.com

SOM’s twitter handle: @M_Umer_Janjua

Editor: @AqibMalik9

 

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Conferences Time!

Are you living in U.S as an high school exchange student? Do you want to make your year successful just like the former best exchange students? Do you want to attend all those cool/informative conferences? If yes, then my fellow you are the right place. Kudos.

A lot of students, while on exchange, have the desire to attend at least one conference. The question comes when you don’t know how to reach them, what are their names, when are they going to be, what to expect. Here below are a brief summary of major conferences that happens every year for YES/ A SMYLE/ FLEX students to enable them to learn different unique qualities.

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  • Civics Education Workshop (CEW):

For CEW, students get an email from American Councils around November- December. The application is sort of a survey in which they have to write an essay regarding the politics of their country, how they relate it with America and how they think to eradicate it when they go home. The selection process starts after you submit your documents. Results are announced around January and  the workshop takes place in February. Workshop is all about the government, leadership qualities, visits to monuments, meetings with your state senators and how the government of America works.

  • Better Understanding for Better World (BUBW), Baltimore/ Orlando, FL/ : 
BUBW happens two times a Year. Once in Baltimore, once in Disney Land(Orlando, FL)The selection process is different for different placement organizations. For some organization you have to give presentations about Pakistan. The group that manages to give the most, gets to go to BUBW.
For some organizations, you have to write an essay regarding an issue and submit it on time.  All of them happen around Spring time.
  • Youth Summit: 
Every year, various placement organizations select on their own ( a little not fair) the best students. The local coordinators nominate these students so make sure you have some good terms with your Local Coordinators. 😉 It happens after Spring. No application, only good behavior and other good achievements.
  • Workshop for youth leaders in teaching English (WYLTE): 
 This depends on your placement organization if they offer you this conference letter or not. Some organization do and some don’t. You cannot blame or claim anyone. The basic purpose of the workshop is to teach the exchange students different ways of teaching English and tips for class management. It also serves as an enhancement activity as students go to many memorials and get a tour of the library of congress and the Capitol. It happens in april at the American councils office in Washington, DC where students also meet many high officials belonging to the American Councils and US States of Departments.

 

  • Global New Media Lab (GNML)  :

GNML is an Online program consists of 10 biweekly sessions that guide you through the process of creating a social media for social change campaign. During GNML Online, you will learn how to harness the power of various social/digital media technologies to advocate for social change related to a social issue in your home community.

  • YOUTH TECH CAMP:

During GNML Online workshops time, happens a TECH CAMP which is only granted to the 26 actively participating students in GNML from YES/FLEX/A SMYLE. It happens around April. This TechCamp will advance their leadership, training and public speaking skills while developing individual strategic action plans that outline how they will teach others back home how to use social media for social change.

NOTE: ALL THE STUDENTS CAN APPLY IN GNML BUT YOU CAN ONLY CHOOSE ONE BETWEEN CEW, TECHCAMP, WYLTE).

Hope it was clear, if you have any question, you can ask in the comments, email us or tweet us at @exchangeSs- we are always active. If you have a story to share, email us and tweet us that you have emailed us. Don’t forget to share, like and tap that follow button in the upper right corner. Thank you.

Editor:  @AqibMalik9

Sneak Peek to emotions- DCOs

Here is a sneak peek to emotions and experience that KLYES batch is going through in their Re-Entry orientations in Washington,DC. For more follow #KLYES10 #iearnus @exchangess for more highlights.

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Nayab Mir shares her exchange story!

“I know these all are the things that I have never done before, but practicing them and experiencing how each one of those arts is like, is one of the greatest feeling of all times.” Read Nayab Mir”s, an KLYES student, year success story. A bit long but interesting indeed.

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I arrived in America on September 1st 2012. Meeting people from different countries, talking, sharing, and listening to them was in itself a great experience. I was learning and teaching at the same time, but as they say, it was just a start. I was excited and fully pumped up about how I was going to spend my exchange year in the United States. Coming from a busy city with a population of 12 million people in a small town with a population of thirteen thousand people was a culture shock for me. I had never thought of experiencing a life with people who are independent, with people whose pets are one of their family members, in a country where everyone has freedom, where I will have to push the button up to turn the light on and learn to say “the magic words” for whatever I did or was about to do. Well this was where the experience started.

            I was placed with a family in a small town, Mexico in the State of Missouri. A place, where you never know how the weather is going to be like. If it’s raining one day, it would be warm the next day and snowing the day later. Getting adjusted to this changing weather was also a big challenge for me. Getting snow, and then getting a school day off just because it snowed, was pretty exciting. Speaking of the high school, in my country, we don’t get to choose what we want to study during our academic year at the school. We have a specific course which we have to go through by the end of the year and take exams. When in America, I was asked, “What subjects would you like to choose?” I stared at the counselor for a while and then asked if we really get to choose our subjects! That was the happiest moment for me, because I was going to get to choose the subjects which sounded interesting and exciting. I chose the coolest subjects which I had never thought I’d get a chance to study and get honor roll for, in all the semesters up till now! Finding friends at the high school was for sure a difficult job but not impossible. I never knew in such a short period of time I would become the favorite of my teachers. Hearing comments from them like, “your parents have grown you well” or “America needs to learn from you and your country” made me feel like I really was representing my country in a way that I was supposed to.

            I never thought I would take part in activities such as theatre, live performances, speech tournaments, choir concerts and sports like soccer. I know these all are the things that I have never done before, but practicing them and experiencing how each one of those arts is like, is one of the greatest feeling of all times.

            The country where I belong from is not a place where a lot of people have pets. In The United States, one of the things that I experienced was that almost every family has a pet. They just treat them like their own family member. They talk to them, they sleep with them. They even play with them, which at first I thought was strange. But after spending a couple of months here, I think pets are ones best friends! I don’t know how I changed from hating pets to loving them. But one thing that I’d like to mention is that I am really attached to the dog in my host family, and I will miss her a lot!

            Speaking of host families, I often get to talk to other exchange students too. No matter how delightfully they said they are close to their hosts, they still feel the absence of their natural parents and get homesick. I’d like to say, from the day I’ve been placed with this family, “I HAVE NEVER BEEN HOMESICK!” My host family is just the best family ever. Every exchange student would always dream of having a host family like mine. They are my true inspiration. I just feel like home, I can tell them whatever, I share all my problems with them, and they figure out solutions for each one of them. I just love them so much! Here I would mention that a lot of my friends had problems with their community representatives, they said they did not have a nice representative, or their reps don’t listen to them, or don’t help them out. But my area representative is just the best rep ever. One call and she is always there. She always helps me and appreciates me for whatever I do. She always tells me that she is proud of me, and is proud of whatever I have done up till now. She motivates me and encourages me to do more and more.  Amy is a great, nice and a very helpful person.

          When I sit down and start brainstorming things that I have done and am doing in my exchange year, my imagination never stops. I always think of more and more things that I have taken part in. One of those would be volunteering or community service. When I was back in my country, I had never done community service before, but because we are exchange students, we are always encouraged to do community service. I have taken part in different community service activities, and up till now, I have a total of two hundred and fifty-nine community service hours. I have tried to serve my host community with great variety and magnitude. I worked with educational programs, churches, hospitals and differently-abled and environmental projects.  I devoted two hours daily after school tutoring rural students in the Next Step Program.  My students ranged from kindergarteners to pregnant teens.  I devoted weekends to judging speech tournaments at my American high school.  I also passionately served as an ambassador for my Muslim faith and Pakistani culture by giving presentations about my country to breakdown stereotypes and misconceptions, and I am sure I have been very successful in that up till now. Giving presentations about my country has become a favorite job for me. Till now I have given 49 successful presentations at different places around the town and another one is scheduled for later this month. After which I will have a nice figure for my presentation count. 

At the Celebration of Nations event held in Owensville, MO, I applied traditional henna tattoos to all participants. I served the local Baptist church helping at the Halloween event and preparing Thanksgiving dinner.  I tried to show great compassion and support for those grieving when serving the County Health Unit in a memorial service event.  Lastly I socialized with and sang songs to handicapped people and planted trees for 12 hours in my neighborhood. Currently I am working with the live performances for the special children of my American high school. It’s known as, “The Jelly Bean Conspiracy” I work with special children and help them in the play. I have a couple more places, where in the following days. I have to do my community service at. Through this work I have learned that serving the community brings change.  Now I am eager to bring change to my home country through volunteerism.  

 Looking at my dedication to the community, my placement organization rewarded me with a President’s volunteer service award and a free trip. I got a chance to choose one free trip to any of the cities in the United States, and I chose California where I will soon be going and I cannot tell how excited I am for that trip.

 I had also applied for the Civic Education Workshop in Washington D.C from February 10-16, and I got a chance to attend that workshop, further more I was nominated as a social media specialist, and did dedicative work. I was presented a certificate on the last day, as a social media person, and also won the photo contest during the week. I have been taking part in different activities since I’ve been here, and have tried to make my year wonderful! Listening to what people think, and what their perspectives about my country Pakistan and all Muslim people around the world are, is just very hurtful. People have such wrong misconceptions and ideals about how we are like. Giving presentations I think is a great way to clear all the misconceptions and become a bridge between both beautiful countries and beliefs. I’d like to thank all the people who have become a great help for me, for making my exchange year successful! And I hope I’ll keep up with the work that I have been doing!

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