The U.S. Embassy in Mali and the NICER/ iEARN Mali office had the pleasure of welcoming Malian students selected for the prestigious Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program on Saturday August 4th, 2018, to a reception to celebrate their participation in the YES program. Some of these exceptional students had returned from a year of living and learning in the United States, while others were about to depart for a year of study. The reception was an opportunity for former participants to help inform new beneficiaries about the program and for parents of former participants to build connections with parents of new YES participants.
During the reception ceremony, students shared their experiences in the U.S. and their expectations for the program through creative speeches, song, and plays to a crowd that included their parents, education officials from the Malian government, and several alumni. The Cultural Affairs Officer, Emma Moros, congratulated the students and encouraged them to take advantage of their experiences in the United States to contribute to their communities and benefit Mali. The Director of National General Secondary Education and the Deputy Director of Elementary Education also thanked the United States and the American host families who helped shape Mali’s future leaders during their year in the United States.
The YES program is funded through the U.S. Department of State to provide scholarships for high school students to spend up to one academic year in the United States. 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. Since its launching, more than 200 Malian students have participated in the program.