Written by Layan Albraik '19 (Saudi Arabia/IA)
Hello, I am Layan Albraik, a Saudi YES exchange student for 2018-2019, placed in Des Moines, IA. I would like to tell you about my exchange year experience.
First, good morning to the greatness of the future, to the joy of accomplishment, to the passion of dreams, to work for yourself, and to make the world a better place. This is the morning I wake up to now every day.
As much as I look forward to returning home and seeing my family, I dislike endings. It is a bittersweet feeling for me. Right now, the clock is ticking until the end of my exchange year.
My Exchange Year
During my year, days passed with happiness and memories that will never be forgotten, but my very first day, I was crying of homesickness. The second day? I was crying because of my fear of dogs.
CAN YOU IMAGINE, I OVERCAME MY FEARS! I made it to the end of my exchange year! That first day, it didn’t seem possible, but thanks to the help and support of World Link and my amazing coordinator Jonda, I can now call myself a World Link and YES alumna!
It’s time to end the first chapter of my story to start the second chapter. It’s time to complete what’s remaining of my long, yet short-life of being an exchange student. It’s time to wrap up my wonderful exchange year.
What I Learned
Let me first start to tell you about some great things I learned and realized through my experience in the United States. I learned that it fits everyone to be a light that does not extinguish, to be a never-ending response. As long as we try to achieve our dreams, we do not care how many times we fall.
I learned not to listen to those who said “you can’t” and not to think of yesterday’s disappointments. No one understands us as much as ourselves, we should be proud of our steadfastness. I learned not to give up whatever my difficulties are. I learned to see my advantages. The most important thing is not to forget my mission now as a leader is to revive a nation.
Celebrating My Acheivements
Here comes my favorite part, my ReEntry Conference. This conference was an exceptional night, filled with pride and joy. Being officially a YES, World Link Alumni is a blessing. Hearing my name called several times to receive my awards from World Link and the U.S. State Department handed to me by Mr. and Mrs. Stutzman, the founders of World Link; was one of the best highlights of my year.
I’m proud to be from the World Link family. I’m thankful to every person I met and taught me lessons I will carry through my lifetime. My lovely coordinator, my wonderful host family and natural family, and my sweet friends, without them I would not be who I am today.
I’m thankful for every lesson I learned through my exchange year. My countdown started with a bittersweet feeling. I’ll miss everyone and everything, my likes, and even my dislikes. Do you know why? It’s because they made me who I am. As much as I try, words cannot express how I feel. All these experiences, positive and negative, made my dream come true and made me the leader you see today.
This year, I felt and experienced all kinds of feelings and emotions. Laughter, smiles, tears. Through it all, I now have one of the best things anyone could ask for and very few people get. I have a family, a global family, connected all over the world.