"Larger than Life" Lavdrim
Exchange student from North Macedonia with family in Washington, D.C.

YES Student of the Month (May 2022)

It is with much excitement that PAX nominates Lavdrim, a YES exchange student from North Macedonia, and Franklin, Indiana, to be the May YES Student of the Month.

Lavdrim adapted rapidly to his host family and community, arriving in early September after school had already begun for his classmates. Despite this, he arrived with a smile, a willingness to adapt, and a truly positive attitude! Lavdrim has jumped head-first into all aspects of American life.

Lavdrim lives on a small animal farm with his host family, the Clarkes, who use their livestock as sources of food. This is incredibly different from Lavdrim’s life back home. However, just as in so many other ways, Lavdrim has adapted and thrived in his host family. Despite his host family’s busy life, they always make time to support Lavdrim and expose him to aspects of American life. Lavdrim’s PAX Community Coordinator, Sabrina Hickey, knows this is in part due to Lavdrim’s unwavering optimism and enthusiasm. She commented, “Lavdrim is a great kid. He's been so kind, fun, open to everything, and I know he's not taking any of this year for granted!”

Lavdrim is also making the most of his time at school. He has made numerous friends and has been a great ambassador for North Macedonia and the YES Program. Lavdrim is taking classes that align with his goal of studying programming after high school, such as Computer Science Essentials and Probability and Statistics, and is a straight-A student. Outside of the classroom, Lavdrim joined the soccer team, the swim team, and is learning the ancient team game of Gaelic hurling. When not busy with his schoolwork or his sporting events, Lavdrim is in the stands supporting and cheering on his host brother’s track and band competitions.

Lavdrim has taken his commitment to the YES program requirements seriously. He made approximately 13 presentations about his country and has participated in many volunteer activities, including helping move furniture, organizing indoor percussion tournaments, presenting about his country, working at food drive-throughs at church, and collecting donations for Afghan refugees. Lavdrim now realizes how important it is to contribute and help your community.

Lavdrim was selected as a finalist for the Civic Education Workshop. He made sure to be engaged and active and was rewarded by being selected to participate in the "Indiana Huddle" with Indiana Senators Young and Braun. Lavdrim seized this opportunity to promote the YES program to the senators by sharing his culture and handing out cards with important info and stats about host families in Indiana and with PAX and YES.

Lavdrim’s experience and his personality are "larger than life." Lavdrim has a passion for photography and videography. He used skills and passion, to produce a motivational video for his swim team as a surprise before sectionals.

After a year of immense growth, improvement, and unforgettable experiences, Lavdrim has formed ever-lasting bonds with new friends and family. Reflecting on the year, the young man says, “Thank you for giving me this opportunity. It has truly been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a chapter of my life that I will never forget.” 

To honor Lavdrim’s commitment, enthusiasm, and adaptability, PAX humbly nominates him as the May YES Student of the Month.

—The PAX Sponsored Team