Mara from Mozambique
Exchange student from Mozambique at a waterfall with her host sisters

YES Student of the Month, October 2021

Mara dove right into her host family’s life and culture from her very first day in Washington State! She connected easily with members of her host family, and she has an especially close connection with her host mom and host sisters. They find Mara funny, kind, and determined and report that she fits into their home just perfectly. “There is something special in Mara. We have hosted 7 students in the past and each time have enjoyed the experience, but Mara feels like the missing piece to our family,” says host mom April.

Since she arrived in August, Mara and her host family have had many opportunities to take fun excursions together and explore the surrounding area. Mara has also proven quite popular in the neighborhood! “It isn’t uncommon for us to get home and have the neighbor kids waiting outside because they want to say 'Hi' to Mara,” reports her host mom. Everyone seems to enjoy Mara’s presence in her host community.

Mara has taken every opportunity to share her culture with her host family since her arrival. She cooked her very favorite dish for them, “Frango a zambeziana,” which she translated as “chicken made in Zambézia.” Her host mom reports that they have enjoyed learning about the differences and similarities between their cultures, saying, “We also do our best to understand her culture and perspective.”

It isn’t uncommon for us to get home and have the neighbor kids waiting outside because they want to say 'Hi' to Mara.

Host mom also mentioned that Mara has been quite a positive influence on the family due to one particular cultural difference. “A funny impact is the dishes. Mara doesn't have a dishwasher back home, so she always washes her dishes by hand. “Now, everyone washes their own dishes, and we haven't run the dishwasher once in a month,” reports host mom.

Mara also has connected very well with her classmates at Pasco High School. She loves her American school. Mara says that she wakes up every morning excited to know she will learn something new that day. “I love U.S. history and physics,” says Mara. “The teachers are awesome and fun!” Mara is an excellent student and carries a 4.0 GPA.

When Mara arrived, it was too late to sign up for fall sports. Rather than getting discouraged, Mara decided to sign up for a spring sport and use her free time this fall to learn how to play the violin. Although she finds it difficult at times, she is determined to succeed and practices for hours. Mara is also a voracious and passionate reader. She spends lots of time at the school library, and she is determined to explore all of the books in it.

Eager to get involved in community work, Mara asked her host mom and coordinator for any volunteering opportunities. Through her host mom’s connections, she started volunteering for a nonprofit educational after-school program for middle school students. Mara has already completed 10 hours of volunteer service and her goal is to complete 100 or more hours of service by the end of her program.

With such a great start to her year, we have no doubt that Mara will accomplish her goals and more during her stay in the U.S. In the short time since she arrived, Mara has already positively impacted the lives of many people in her host community and proven herself a great ambassador of Mozambique and the YES Program.

—The PAX Sponsored Team