Two Cary teens are among the 65 students in the United States selected to serve as “youth ambassadors” under a U.S. Department of State full scholarship called the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Abroad program.
Alicia Chen, a rising senior at Raleigh Charter High School, will spend her senior year of high school in Morocco. Fellow student and recent graduate of Raleigh Charter High School, Kyra Jasper, will take a gap year in Macedonia before attending college at Stanford University.
YES Abroad is a government-funded program created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in order to foster understanding between the United States and countries with significant Muslim populations. It is a full scholarship that covers all expenses, including a modest stipend and travel, to study abroad for an academic year.
“We’re really good friends who both love learning about and sharing different cultures,” Alicia said. “We actually discovered this program together and applied thinking that there was no way we would both get in. We’re going to different countries, but we’re super happy to be able to share this experience together.”
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Alicia is the daughter of Jun Chen and Minmin Chen, and Kyra is the daughter of Warren Jasper and Annette Jasper. Both girls are blogging about their experience – Alicia at fromraleightorabat.wordpress.com and Kyra at gapyearinskopje.wordpress.com.
In June, they attended YES Abroad’s four-day pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C., where they met the other program participants, visited their respective country embassies, visited the State Department, and attended seminars about cultural preparedness and exchange.
K-L YES Abroad is the reciprocal of the Kennedy-Lugar YES Inbound program, which brings high-school students from Muslim countries in the U.S. to study for a year.