In response to the events of September 11th, 2001, the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program was launched to build bridges of understanding between the United States and countries with significant Muslim populations in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Southeast Europe. Funded by the United States Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), the YES program provides high school students from these countries an opportunity to live in the United  States with host families and attend high school for an academic year.

In the program year 2023-24, YFU welcomes 29 YES scholars from:

Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Egypt, Gaza, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Morocco, North Macedonia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, West Bank.

Explore the YES program’s impact on students, host families, and communities:

Support Materials for Scholars, Host Families, and Volunteers

Facts for Volunteers & Host Families for YFU YES Scholars (coming soon)

YES Student Handbook  (American Councils publication)

YES Introduction to the USA for YES Students (American Councils publication)

YES Student of the Month Nomination Instructions – The YES Student of the Month program is sponsored by the Department of State and recognizes outstanding YES scholars each month.

YES Country-Specific Resources

Common Cultural Traits in YES Countries

Cultural Information Sheets – country-specific information on school, family life, personal interactions, personal hygiene, and food and culture

Albania Bahrain Bangladesh Bosnia & Herzegovina Bulgaria Cameroon Egypt Ghana India Indonesia

Israel (Arab Communities) Jordan Kenya Kosovo Kuwait Lebanon Liberia Libya Malaysia

Mali Morocco Mozambique Nigeria North Macedonia Pakistan Philippines Saudi Arabia Senegal Sierra Leone South Africa

Suriname Tanzania Thailand Tunisia Turkey West Bank & Gaza

Cultural Handbooks for YES Program Countries – Funded by the US Department of State and available to all organizations hosting YES scholars, these resources focus on cultural norms and traditions and provide perspectives from US host families. Use these handbooks to learn about your YES student’s cultural background and support their adjustment in the US. Each year, the YES program adds new country handbooks.

Egypt     Ghana     India     Indonesia     Malaysia     Pakistan     South Africa     South East Europe     Thailand     Turkey

Resources for Supporting YES Scholars of Different Faiths

Required Activities for YFU YES Scholars

Community Service & Leadership Development   

YFU YES Scholar Required Activity Booklet

International Education Week – November 13-17, 2023

Department of State Letter to Schools to Welcome IEW Presentations (coming soon!)

IEW Presentation Tips

Global Youth Service Day  – April 26-28, 2024

YFU YES Host Family, School, and Volunteer Recruitment Tools

School Administrator Handbook (US Department of State publication)

YES Scholar & Host Family Stories Promotional Video – This US Department of State-sponsored video features YES students and their host families. The video engages prospective host families in the extraordinary story of the YES Program and encourages them to be hosts, ambassadors, and champions. It dispels myths and preconceptions, answers common questions, and gets people excited about hosting. Use this tool to introduce the YES program, broaden the appeal for and deepen appreciation of this exchange opportunity for host families and community members. This guide pairs with the YES YouTube channel to help you find specific stories. 

YES Video Resource Guide

Leadership Opportunities for YFU YES Scholars

1.  Civic Education Workshop (CEW): A one-week program, held by American Councils and American Civics Center in Washington, D.C., hosting approximately 100 YES students. During CEW, students will learn firsthand about the U.S. federal system of government and other important concepts of US culture and civil society through seminar discussions, briefings, and meetings on Capitol Hill. Students are invited to apply in December.

2.  English Language Teaching: This one-week workshop, presented by American Councils in Washington, D.C., will host approximately 28 students. Participants learn classroom teaching and leadership skills. The workshops are focused on developing participants’ abilities to teach English to other youth and to help them qualify for ECA and Embassy supported English programs when they return home. Activities include extensive online pre-program engagement, as well as follow-on support and interaction after the students return home. Students are invited to apply in December.

3.  Better Understanding for a Better World Conference (BUBW): This conference brings together US high school students of diverse backgrounds and international exchange students currently studying in the US. YFU YES students selected to attend will receive a scholarship which pays for the full conference fee and transportation to Baltimore. Students are invited to apply in December.

Send YES project ideas and pictures to

Better Understanding for a Better World Conference 2023