Just English Magazine Articles

It’s time for an exchange…

Instead of being bored over the next school holidays, what if I told you that you could instead travel to a different country, see new sights, live with a different family, learn more about other cultures, make new friends, and maybe even pave the way towards a sponsored university education after you graduate high school? Sounds too good to be true? Well pay attention, because this is the real deal!

Exchange programs for young people are available in most countries. These programs are usually very competitive, but well worth it if you manage to join one. Here are some reasons why:

  1. These programs are usually fullysponsored by a foreign ministry or multi-national organisation. This means you will not be required to pay for anything.
  2. In some cases, you will stay within a ‘host family’ who will be able to help you integrate into the new society during your stay.
  3. You’ll be able to learn more about foreign culture, and share your own culture with new friends you’ll make.
  4. These valuable experiences will make you a more worldly person, build up your confidence, and as a result, you’ll find it much easier to engage with others later on.
  5. Exchange programs look great on a CV! Whether you’re applying for scholarships to study abroad, or jobs, the experience of an exchange program shows potential universities and employers that you are an independent and serious candidate. It does take considerable effort to apply for the programs, and most of them are highly competitive, so it shows that you are someone who takes initiative and works hard.
  6. In many cases, young people who have participated in youth exchange programs organised by the governments of other countries also find it easier to obtain scholarships from the same governments later on.

The best way to find an exchange program that you can apply for is of course to google it. You could also check out local youth groups, ask a teacher, or get your parents to help you. But just to get you started, here are a few good leads to look out for:

1. Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program
Eligibility: 15 – 18 years old.
The YES Program is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs (ECA) and provides scholarships for high school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to study for one academic year in the U.S. Under this program, you will live with a host family, attend an American high school, acquire leadership skills, and engage in activities to learn about U.S. society and values; you will also help educate Americans about your home country and culture. You’ll serve as a kind of “youth ambassador” of your home country, promoting mutual understanding by forming lasting relationships with your host families and communities. To apply for this program, check your local US Embassy website for more information.

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sponsored – paid for by someone
competitive – a situation in which people or groups are trying
to win a contest or be more successful than others
integrate – to blend into/ to unite with something else
worldly – having a lot of practical experience and knowledge
about life and the world
initiative – taking the necessary steps to do something
C.V. – a brief write up of a person’s education, qualifications, and previous occupations, typically sent with a job application
leads – a tip, indication, or clue
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