Busy Bangladeshi
Teenage Bengali plays her guitar in Arizona forest

YES Student of the Month, December 2021

PAX - Program of Academic Exchange is pleased to nominate Tazrian Arwa, a YES exchange student from Bangladesh and Flagstaff, AZ to be the December YES Student of the Month.

Arwa, as she likes to be called, is truly embracing her exchange year! While she has only been in Flagstaff with her host family for a couple of months, Arwa has been communicating with them since early 2020. When she finally arrived, she and her host family had already bonded thoroughly. Arwa’s Community Coordinator speaks very highly of Arwa and is excited to watch the relationship continue to grow in person. She says, “Arwa is very engaged with her host family, and they will be bonded for life!” 

Arwa has been an eager volunteer while in America on the YES program. She explains that she didn’t have many opportunities to participate in service projects in Bangladesh and feels that her involvement here has opened new horizons. When asked what personal qualities she is developing through volunteering, Arwa writes, “Not only do I get to meet new people every day, but I also get to learn a lot of new things from them. Being an anxious, introverted girl, continuing any conversation was never my cup of tea. However, I am finally defeating my biggest fear, social anxiety, by interacting and conversing with different people with different mindsets.”

To date, Arwa has completed 51 hours of volunteer work! She has spent most of her volunteer time at the Flagstaff Family Food Center. There, she helps serve meals, cook, wash dishes, and clean up. She has also helped in the reading room by playing and reading with kids and organizing the books and toys. When the Flagstaff community was hit hard by summer flooding, Arwa volunteered to help fill sandbags to protect houses and has volunteered at a carwash for a local non-profit. Finally, she has volunteered for the school beautification day and to help with the haunted house at the junior high school dance before Halloween. Arwa has been ready to help whenever asked and is always seeking new challenges and opportunities.

In addition to volunteering, Arwa has joined the high school Rotary club, the National Arts Honor Society, the National Honor Society, and the environmental coalition club. She has been elected treasurer of both the Rotary club and the National Arts Honor Society. She has also been volunteering her time to tutor her peers in math and science. 

Arwa’s studious nature and aptitude for math have been a great influence on her host sister Rowan. Arwa has been helping Rowan see that math can make sense and be fun! Arwa has been taking three social studies classes and two English classes. She enjoys sharing her culture in her music and art classes. Arwa has been sharing her love of music and culture with her friends by teaching them some Bengali and Bollywood dance moves. Additionally, she enjoys helping choreograph new dance moves in her dance class.

Although Arwa has had many notable accomplishments since arriving, one of her favorites is learning to cook while in America. Before coming to Arizona, Arwa had not cooked and did not have a strong interest in learning. However, her desire to share some of her Bangladeshi foods prompted her to connect with her natural mother over Facebook Messenger to help her cook some amazing meals to share with her host family! This newfound desire to learn culinary arts has continued as she is learning more about American cooking from her host dad.

In between her schoolwork, participation in school activities, volunteering, and spending time with her host family, Arwa enjoys playing guitar and singing. Arwa practices music regularly and learns new songs with her host sister Rowan.

Arwa is always ready to try new adventures! In September, her host family went to Lake Powell to swim. Usually, the weather is in the 90s and quite warm. However, on the day of their planned trip, it was unexpectedly cold and rainy.  Despite the weather, Arwa was excited and still wanted to swim and paddleboard in the water with her host dad and sister. Arwa had an amazing time but admits she’s never been so cold after getting out of the water into the cold wet air! Luckily, this provided an excuse for her host family to do some thrift store shopping for warm clothes…something Arwa loves to do!

Arwa is making the most of her exchange year and has been an excellent representative of Bangladesh, the YES Program, and PAX. For this reason, PAX is delighted to nominate Tazrian Arwa as the YES December Student of the Month!

—The PAX Sponsored team