"YES!" I Continue To Volunteer
Former YES program participant working at the computer with young Bangladesh students
Ifreet has been particularly active volunteering with youth since her return to her native Bangladesh.

PAX/YES alumna truly living YES program goals

We were recently honored with a very special visitor at the PAX office in Port Chester: 2014/15 PAX/YES (Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study program) alumna Ifreet Taheea from Bangladesh. Exchanging emails following the visit, the following interview resulted.

PAX Press: Can you tell us about what you’re doing in the U.S. at the moment—the reason for your visit?

Ifreet: I came here to attend Miracle Corners of the World’s Young Leaders Program which is preparing me to work on my initiative to bring a positive change in my community along with 26 other participants from around the world.

PAX Press: I understand you are very active in YES alumni, volunteering, etc. Can you tell us about a few of the most interesting activities and the impact they’ve made?

Ifreet: Well, I have worked for project Ramadan last and this year where we did some good to an underprivileged community during Ramadan. I was also a speaker and organizer for this year’s pre-departure orientation. I recently got elected as one of the nine executive members of YES Alumni Association of Bangladesh too, so I will be overlooking a lot more projects and initiating some of my own over the next couple of years and hopefully in the future too. Other than that, I organized two other projects outside of the “YES world.”

PAX Press: What are you studying, and what do you hope to do one day in a professional sense?

Ifreet: I am waiting on my results for my high school graduation at the moment. I plan on majoring in International Business and minoring in International Relations. In the future, I hope to be a successful social worker or activist for the country or maybe become a diplomat.

PAX Press: How might your life have been different if you had not been a PAX exchange student?

Ifreet: I wouldn’t have been able to be the global citizen that I am today without being a PAX exchange student especially because of all the enrichment trips that my local coordinator Kris Hales organized for my region. I feel that now I am much more aware and sensitive about my culture and community and others as well.

PAX Press: Are you still in contact with your host family?

Ifreet: Yes! In fact, I will be meeting them this week at my host state New Hampshire!

PAX Press: Can you share something important you learned from your host family?

Ifreet: Discipline and punctuality are two traits that I have been taught very well by my host family. I don’t know how far I have improved, but I definitely understand how important it is to be organized and outspoken which will help me in the long run.

PAX Press: What was your biggest challenge during your exchange? How did you overcome it?

Ifreet: I think at one point the weather got to me, I am used to living in a warm climate so the constant chilly weather got me stressed out at one point. Joining the basketball team and actively volunteering helped me steer clear of the stress and helped me not only keep warm but also do something productive.

PAX Press: Any advice for an American family who may be unsure about whether or not to host an exchange student?

Ifreet: The only honest advice I can give is do not miss out on any opportunity life throws at you. You never know how much of an impact you truly are capable of making unless you host someone and see him/her grow by yourself, because of you.