Wednesday, June 19, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

The journey of a lifetime

With guidance from his teacher, high-school student  Pradipta applied to the YES Program and spent the 2019-2020 academic year at Franklin Central High School in Indiana, US

Update : 01 Nov 2022, 11:07 PM

In 2019, Habiganj Govt High School student Pradipta Roy Sarkar was in class daydreaming about the big, wide world.

His teacher noticed and asked if he wanted to study abroad for a year – for free? He did.

With guidance from his teacher, Pradipta applied to the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program and spent the 2019-2020 academic year at Franklin Central High School in Indiana, USA.

The YES program is a student exchange program sponsored by the US Dept of State for high school students of countries with significant Muslim populations.

Pradipta told Dhaka Tribune that YES students serve as youth ambassadors of their home country, promoting mutual understanding by forming lasting relationships with their host families and communities. 

Participants live with a host family, attend an American high school, acquire leadership skills, and engage in activities to learn about US society and values. They help educate Americans about their home country and culture.

Pradipta says he was anxious about living with a host family away from home for a year.

“But it was the best decision of my life. The biggest thing I learned from my host family and school was to not be judgmental -- to be supportive of others.”

He said his host family stood by him like families do.

At the height of Covid in 2020, YES students were being sent home on special flights.

Pradipta was not allowed to board the plane on account of a high temperature and the authorities arranged for him to stay at a hotel for three weeks.

When they found out, his host father and mother drove 11 hours at night to meet him at the hotel.

He recalls: “They fought the authorities for me, saying I was their son and they wanted to take me home. There was no way they'd leave me in a hotel until the next flight.”

Fairy-tale school experience

For Prottay Roy Chowdhury, another YES student ambassador: “High school was the absolute favourite part of my exchange year!

“Being an introvert, I had a hard time socializing in school at the beginning of the school year. Somehow though, around the second semester, something just clicked, and I turned into one of the most sociable people at West Delaware High School.”

“I learned a lot. You have to do your own work and take things easy, that's what I learned,” Prottay said.

Education not an extra pressure

Marian Prithvi Gomes, now an A-level student, was another YES program participant.

At Chattanooga High School in Tennessee, she developed a taste for extracurricular activities, clocking 100 hours of community service. Marian attended school from 8am to 5pm.

“This made me realize the importance of serving the community. I realized that studying means more than school, coaching, and homework.”

She loved that dance, music, art, theatre, and sports were all equally important in school, as were subjects like math, physics, and chemistry.

Marian's host family was a single mother and her daughter in Class 8.

“My host mother made fun plans all the time. We'd go to Disneyland, the zoo or a park or a mountain. My life was like a dream that one year. At home, we cooked together, did the laundry, played games, and the whole family watched movies together.”

Bangladeshi students in classes 8, 9, 10 and 11 can apply for next year's YES cohort by November 14.

Information about the program can be found at and the YES program's Facebook page.

The YES program is administered in partnership with the US Department of State by a consortium of non-profit organizations. In Bangladesh, iEARN Bangladesh manages the YES program in partnership with the local US Embassy Public Affairs Office.

YES program coordinator and iEARN Bangladesh Director Wasi Mahmud Moni told the Dhaka Tribune that over 432 Bangladeshi students have so far taken part in the program since it was launched in Bangladesh in 2004.

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