Carolina Day School sophomore Samantha Davis has been accepted to the competitive Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program. Samantha was chosen for one of 60 merit-based scholarships for U.S. citizens in the first round of selection to study for one academic year in select countries. Samantha will participate in the Bosnia and Herzegovina program and will spend an academic year in either Sarajevo or Banja Luka.
The YES Abroad program is a cultural exchange between the U.S. and countries with significant Muslim populations. YES Abroad participants serve as “youth ambassadors” in their host communities, promoting mutual understanding by forming lasting relationships with their host families and friends. At the forefront of citizen diplomacy, participants will develop the skills necessary to be a leader in the global community.
"I am so excited to participate in the YES abroad program through the State Department because in this country we have so many stereotypes about what it means to be Muslim especially post 9/11,” said Davis. “I am ready to take the step towards being a global citizen and break down those barriers. Just as breaking down Muslim barriers is important I will also be breaking down the perceptions of how Bosnians perceive America. With this kind of relationship building, I hope to create relationships that will inhabit mutual respect, understanding, and friendship with people who differ in my nationality and religion. Carolina Day has been extremely supportive of this and I look forward in being a catalyst for interfaith education and awareness once I return my senior year."
With a population of over 300,000 people, Sarajevo is the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the largest city in the country. Often called the "Jerusalem of Europe" or the "Jerusalem of the Balkans," Sarajevo is famous for its traditional religious diversity. Adherents of Islam, Orthodox Christianity, Catholicism, and Judaism have coexisted there for centuries.
Students will live with host families in order to experience true immersion in the local culture. Students attend public high schools in both Banja Luka and Sarajevo. The primary language of instruction will be English.
Students will have the opportunity to take part in various activities to increase their interaction with local peers in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Activities may include field trips, sporting events, cultural excursions, social outings, and community service projects. Examples of previous enrichment activities include:
- Meeting with the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy
- Exploring host cities
- Trips to various cities and towns, including Mostar, Tuzla,Travnik, Pocitelj, and Trebinje
- Cultural days with Bosnian YES alumni who studied in the United States
- Community service activities, such as volunteering at local animal shelters, participating in clothes and food drives, clean-up campaigns, and helping organizations that work with children with disabilities or orphanages. Participation in volunteering activities in honor of Global Youth Service Day has also been a tradition with YES Abroad students in Bosnia since the launch of the program in 2012
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 from countries with significant Muslim populations 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.
For more information about Carolina Day School, its prekindergarten through twelve independent day school program, call 828-274-0757 or visit carolinaday.org.