June 2023: Yvonne from Indonesia
Exchange student from Indonesia in front of American host family's home

Positive attitude the key in South Dakota

With great pleasure, PAX is nominating Yvonne, a YES student from Indonesia and Harrisburg, South Dakota to be the June YES Student of the Month. 

Yvonne has seamlessly immersed herself in her host family life and her local community. She displays endless amounts of kindness, respect, and selflessness, and she always carries a positive attitude. Her Community Coordinator says, “Yvonne is helpful and kind, respectful and considerate. She helps with cooking, cleaning up after meals, helping neighbors, and overall contributing to their family life!” Whenever there is a gathering at her host family's home, Yvonne takes the opportunity to showcase some of the unique aspects of her culture by preparing and serving traditional Indonesian dishes. She says, “It brings me so much joy to see their excitement and enjoyment when they try something new and unfamiliar.”

Yvonne is indeed a passionate representative of Indonesia’s culture. Not only as part of International Education Week (IEW) but during the entire year, Yvonne has shared her Indonesian culture through various means. Cooking Indonesian cuisine and serving it to students at lunch, performing a cultural dance in the school variety show, and giving cultural presentations to more than 30 classes (2,000+ attendees).

Yvonne is also a dedicated volunteer to many causes and loves community service, because it allows her to learn new skills, have a positive impact on others, and make new friends. To date, she has completed 101 volunteer hours! Yvonne states, “I am inspired by how the American lifestyle respects and has a lot of opportunities to volunteer.” Yvonne regularly volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House and the Sioux Falls City Food Bank. She’s also pitched in at the Serve-and-Learn Student Association, Feeding South Dakota, Make-A-Wish, Habitat for Humanity, and Rake the Town in addition to the local church and her school. She’s even collected leaves and shoveled snow for elderly neighbors.

My exchange year was like a journey into the unknown. It was scary at first, but it was also filled with endless opportunities for growth and discovery.

Yvonne has made a lasting impression on Sioux Falls Christian High School by excelling both academically and socially. She has taken a challenging and well-rounded schedule of classes and is doing excellent work in them all! She has joined many school clubs and has earned several awards. She is a member of the National Speech and Debate Association and the International Leadership Team. Additionally, Yvonne is a Workshop for Youth Leaders in English Teaching (WYLET) awardee, the winner of PAX’s “Virtual Exchange” contest, and was chosen to attend the Better Understanding for a Better World (BUBW) Conference in Baltimore, Maryland this past April. Through all of the classes and activities, Yvonne has provided herself with great opportunities to continually connect, grow, and learn with others.

Since stepping off the plane, Yvonne has been ready and willing to do all the hard work it takes to make her exchange year the best it could be. After 10 months of exchange experience, when looking back Yvonne says, “I learned that true happiness and fulfillment can be found in the connections we make with others. Despite the difficulties I faced, I was able to form deep connections with my host family, peers, and other people I met during my exchange year. These connections taught me the importance of empathy, kindness, and understanding. My exchange year was like a journey into the unknown. It was scary at first, but it was also filled with endless opportunities for growth and discovery. I am grateful for the challenges and experiences I faced, as they helped me become the person I am today. Thank you, YES program!”

—The PAX Sponsored Programs team