YES Students of the Month

February, March, & April 2023

YES Student of the Month (April 2023): Mohammad from Lebanon

YES Student from Lebanon holding National Honor Society certificate

PAX - Program of Academic Exchange is proud to nominate Mohammad, a YES exchange student from Lebanon, and Nineveh, Indiana to be April YES Student of the Month. 

Mohammad, who goes by Moe, is an inspirational exchange student. He not only has gone above and beyond to share his culture, country, and religion with everyone he meets but he also shows strong enthusiasm for volunteer work and giving back to his community in Indiana. Moe has completed 105 hours of volunteer service and he continues to spend most of his after-school time assisting middle and high school students with disabilities through the Champions Together program.

What began as one hour per day has flourished into so many hours that the special education teacher has begun to depend on him and the students have grown especially fond of him. Mohammad is very involved and dedicated to this program. A few weeks ago, he spent an entire Saturday at the Polar Plunge where he jumped in a pool in the freezing winter weather to raise money for the kids. Serving people with disabilities has encouraged Mohammad to consider a future career in his own country tailored to protecting people’s rights.

Mohammad also excels at school. In addition to taking a full course of study, Mohammad is taking courses in accelerated physics and math, has a GPA greater than 4.0, and has joined many groups at school, including Future Farmers of America, competitive math and English academic teams, Spanish club, and the National Honor Society. He also started a new club called the International Club, bringing together students from many places. Mohammad has been nominated twice for school student of the month, once by a teacher and then by the administration of Indian Creek High School.

In addition to his school achievements, Mohammad was selected to participate in the Civic Education Workshop (Washington D.C.), FLEX/YES Story Telling Workshop, and Better Understanding for a Better World. 

Muhammad’s host family adores him. He has become the son that they didn’t have and the brother of their two daughters. Mohammad and his host family have enjoyed many wonderful experiences together. “However, the beginning was not easy,” says his host mom Shellee. “Moe struggled with his diet and missed his home country, but he did a great job of communicating with me, and we worked through things together.” His success in the program has certainly been aided by the exceptional support of his host family and local coordinator but, above all, to Moe’s open-mindedness. 

Mohammad’s experience in his exchange program embodies the open-mindedness and cultural exchange for which we strive. In addition, his humbleness and devotion to helping children with disabilities are impressive. As such, we are honored to nominate Mohamad as April’s YES Student of the Month.

—The PAX Sponsored Programs team


YES Student of the Month (March 2023): Eshal from Pakistan

YES student from Pakistan at American high school's science fair

PAX is excited to nominate Eshal of Pakistan and Emmet, Arkansas, for YES Student of the Month.

Eshal is an exceptional student who has impressed a lot of people since her arrival. However, as Eshal indicates, the beginning was not easy for her. She had to work hard to overcome the difficulties she faced acclimating to American culture. Everything was different—from the food to daily activities, religion, and wardrobe. Representing Pakistan and her Muslim religion with pride, EshaI made it her mission to leave a loving and kind impression with the people she met and engaged with while here in the United States.

She wishes for people from her country, culture, and religion to be seen without fear. Since her arrival, Eshal has embraced any opportunity to present her country. During IEW Eshal gave 51 presentations, reaching more than 1,600 Arkansans. “IEW brought me close to my culture, American culture, my school, and my community. Everyone knows me as a Pakistani girl, and I’m proud of that,” says Eshal.

Eshal has made a great impact on her school by being a model student. She is very studious, enjoys her American courses, and has joined several sports and clubs, including the softball team and band. Eshal is the vice president of Educators Rising for which she placed second in a competition where she created a TED talk. She is also the vice president of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) and a member of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA).

She is extremely excited about the invitation she received to play Pakistan’s national anthem for the spring band concert. Additionally, she found it a great honor when the school principal emailed her natural parents and told them how amazing Eshal is and how they truly enjoy having her in school. Eshal exclaims, “It is a big thing for me, my parents, and my country.”

Eshal has invested 135 volunteer hours into her host community. She regularly volunteers with the local Kiwanis club, at the school concession stand, tutoring classmates, in a nursing home, and at nearby church events. Eshal is currently working on a project called "Small Things Matter" for which she is collecting can tabs for recycling, with the money used to treat children suffering from cancer. There’s a beautiful quote Eshal shared with us, something she reflects upon daily. “You are given this life because you are strong enough to live it, create opportunities for others to live with you, and serve where you can.” 

Eshal has received several awards and certificates, but she describes the biggest award as being herself and representing a Pakistani girl to the best of her ability. She says, “Every month is different and equally challenging, but I'm proud to say that I have completed my challenges and I've learned something new about myself.”

Eshal’s many qualities and contributions make it an honor to nominate her for the March YES Student of the Month.

—The PAX Sponsored Programs team


YES Student of the Month (February 2023): Auzan from Indonesia

YES student from Indonesia playing in snow for the first time

PAX - Program of Academic Exchange is excited to nominate Auzan, a YES exchange student from Indonesia and Brattleboro, Vermont to be February YES Student of the Month.

“Auzan is wonderful! He is intelligent, kind, and compassionate. He helps out whenever he can. I have learned a lot about his culture.” These are the opening lines of Auzan’s host mother’s nomination letter. Furthermore, his coordinator writes, “Auzan is a fantastic example of how person-to-person contact can be a great opening for the average American teenager to learn about another country. He is just who he is, with his cheerful nature and passionate interest in singing and the arts—and lots of Brattleboro High School kids are now starting to think on an international level. Kudos to Auzan!”

Auzan is passionate about sharing about his country, Indonesia. He brought Indonesian spices with him and is teaching his host mom to cook Indonesian meals. He also occasionally wears his Indonesian dress clothes and has given several cultural presentations at his school. 

Auzan is on the very prestigious high honors list at Brattleboro Union High School. Not only does he maintain high academics, but Auzan also participates in choir, acapella, and theater. Auzan is always running around with a group of American theater kids and often humming and singing some tune that they are doing in chorus. He is going to play a significant part in his school’s musical and is very excited about that.

In addition to his artistic accomplishments, Auzan is also a dedicated volunteer and enjoys community service, because it allows him to learn new skills, have a positive impact on others, and make new friends. He volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club and the Gallery Walk and enjoyed doing Christmas caroling with his choral group.

Auzan’s kindness, enthusiasm, and dedication made him a natural choice for PAX’s nomination for February’s YES student of the month. As his coordinator Jill says, “Auzan's most outstanding accomplishment is just how much sunshine he brings to everyone he meets. He's a fantastic ambassador for Indonesia that way!”

—The PAX Sponsored Programs team