Model Student from Mali
Exchange student from Mali presents her culture in high school classroom

YES Student of the Month (March 2022)

PAX is excited to nominate Oumou, a YES exchange student from Mali and Hope, Arkansas, to be the March YES Student of the Month.

Oumou is an exceptional young adult and has been a leader since the day she arrived. She is well-respected by all that have come to know her. Her Community Coordinator, teachers, fellow students, and especially her host family appreciate her positive attitude and consideration for others. Oumou is always eager to step outside her comfort zone and try new things.

Oumou is hosted by first-time host parents who commented, “It's a blessing to host such a wonderful person!” They have been impressed by how easily Oumou has adapted to a life with a special needs child. Oumou’s host brother has autism and limited verbal communication. Oumou bonded with her host brother immediately and engaged in helping him with pride. She greets him with a smile and a kind voice each day. She helps with his meal prep, reminds him of his daily duties, and always makes sure he’s safe. Oumou even takes time out of her day to play with him. Oumou does all this without having to be asked.

It's a blessing to host such a wonderful person!

Oumou has made a great impact at her school by being a model student. Her academics have been impressive—earning all A's so far. Oumou’s kindness and positivity have been acknowledged by many people. Oumou has shared her culture and experience with her classmates and the faculty during International Education Week and beyond. She's taught her teammates and coaches some words in her native languages of French and Bambara. But most importantly she has been available when needed, from hosting to volunteering; she has done all that was asked of her.

Oumou has over 40 volunteer hours. She's picked up trash along the streets with Civitan, a local service club. She helped her host family babysit children of a family that had lost a loved one while the family made funeral arrangements. She even used her money to buy a meal for a person in need.

This student has made a great impact by using her time, effort, and resources to give back to the community that has taken her in. She's also been the guest speaker for a few local service clubs, talking to them about her culture and experiences while living in the United States. One of these presentations was highlighted by a local newspaper. Oumou was also featured in the newspaper with her coordinator and two other PAX exchange students at a recruitment event for host families.

In her nomination of Oumou, her host mother commented, “To travel alone and make it to your destination, speak a language you're not familiar with, and live in a home with a family you've never met in person, from another country with none of your immediate family members present speaks volumes.” Oumou has done all of this with grace, enthusiasm, and compassion. 

In all aspects, Oumou has excelled as an ambassador of Mali and the YES Program. For this reason, PAX is honored to nominate her for the YES Program Student of the Month. 

—The PAX Sponsored Team