Omar's Achievements in Arkansas
YES exchange student from Lebanon presents about his country in Arkansas classroom

May YES Student of the Month

PAX - Program of Academic Exchange is nominating Omar, a YES exchange student from Lebanon and Tontitown, Arkansas to be the May YES Student of the Month!   

As the “teenage big brother from Lebanon,” Omar enjoys watching movies, conversing over dinner, going to church, and exchanging music with his host family. Omar tells PAX that it is important to take the kindness he is given and show it in return. He does this by getting his host mom her favorite snack from the concession stand, spending extra time playing with his siblings, and embracing their way of life with an open mind. He has enjoyed sharing his culture and they have enthusiastically welcomed celebrating both Islamic and Lebanese holidays, asking questions to deepen their understanding, and supporting Omar through Ramadan. He has found being an ambassador for his country one of the most rewarding parts of his exchange year.

Omar has taken this passion into the community, breaking down misconceptions about Lebanon and getting people excited about his culture. He said, “My church community, neighbors, and host parents were all shocked to learn that Lebanon has almost as many Christians as Muslims!”

Community members will often greet him by returning a standard Lebanese greeting that he has taught them: Marhaba, kifak. To give back to the people who have welcomed him, Omar has logged 163 hours of community service! Teaching debate to elementary students, assembling over 1,000 burritos for a food shelter, fundraising, and making holiday cards for veterans are just a few ways that he’s made an impact. Additionally, Omar was elected as district leader for the 3rd Congressional District in Senator Boozman’s highly selective Congressional Youth Cabinet, which has given him a particularly unique way to give back.

Community members will often greet him by returning a standard Lebanese greeting that he has taught them: 'Marhaba, kifak.'

This sort of achievement is a theme for Omar. Throughout the school year, he has made lasting contributions to the yearbook committee, lacrosse team, junior class council, and National Honor Society, and has even created a Model UN club at his school. Omar has been an outspoken advocate for underrepresented voices in his class, and teachers have asked him personally to present on various topics.

One of Omar’s highest achievements comes from his time on the speech and debate team, where they won the mock trial state championship, making them the only team in Arkansas to go to the national tournament. Omar won a 4th place extemporaneous speaking trophy, a 2nd place speaker award, a 1st place trophy in congressional debate, and a 1st place speaker award.

Omar expressed, “I believe the Student of the Month is the student who has shown constant dedication and improvement. It’s the student that has not only done well so far but strived to be better every step of the way.”

Omar has been an incredible representative of Lebanon, PAX, and the YES Program. It is with joy that PAX nominates Omar as May YES Student of the Month. 

—The PAX Sponsored Team