OUT of a total of 750 applications from all over South Africa, 17-year-old Umbilo resident, Chloe Warwick, is part of the 15 young South Africans to be selected for the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program.
The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs (ECA) to provide scholarships for high school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to study for one academic year in the United States.
Warwick, who will leave SA for the US on 4 August, says she cried when she received the news.
“It was a rigorous progress when we initially started. After sending your application you had to go for an interview and then they shortlisted 30 people, from there the number was narrowed to 14. We then had to conduct a home interview. I was really excited and I cried when I received the news that I had been awarded the Kennedy Lugar Youth Exchange Scholarship. I have already been in contact with my host family in Michigan where i will be based,” she said.
During her stay in Michagan, Warwick and the other participants will serve as “youth ambassadors” for the country, promoting mutual understanding by forming lasting relationships with their host families and communities.
They 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; they also help educate Americans about their home country and culture.
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The program was officially launched in South Africa in 2010 in the hopes it would expand communication between the people of the United States and South Africa in order to promote mutual understanding and respect.
Since then, more than 55 South African students have completed the YES program and now participate as alumni.
“We are so proud of her, she just applied completely on her own. When she told me about it, I told her to go for it but I wasn’t aware that it was for the entire year. She also fiercely independent and a hard-worker, very dedicated and focused. She has already formed a bond with her host family in the US which makes us feel at ease because we know she will be safe,” said her mother.