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Kosovo Youth Exchange Program Changes Lives in Kosovo, America

Students, host families, and host schools talk about the successes of the Kosovo Youth Exchange Program (KYEP), and urge you to consider hosting a student in 2013-14!

“Opening myself up to a new family and a new culture was the best decision of my life,” says Dorotea, one of the class of 2012-13 Kosovo Youth Exchange Program (KYEP). Dorotea is a sophomore from Pristina, Kosovo. She is currently studying at Magnificat High School, where she’s made friends, joined the debate team, and made the honor roll. Along with other Cleveland-based KYEP students - Gresë, also a student at Magnificat, and Arbias, enrolled at Mayfield High School - Dorotea is taking advantage of what the program has to offer. Gresë agrees that her experience has been life-changing: “The friendships I have created are priceless. I am very lucky!”  KYEP is funded by the U.S. Embassy in Kosovo and managed by the Cleveland Council on World Affairs (CCWA). KYEP invites talented high school students from Kosovo to live and study in the United States for an academic year. These students are highly skilled in English and proven leaders in their communities. KYEP participants are involved in school clubs, service programs, and volunteer activities in their host communities. They are interested in cultural exchange, and take every opportunity to talk about Kosovo and learn about America. Perhaps most importantly, they are dedicated to returning home and serving Kosovo. Kosovo is a relatively new country, having declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Its modern history has been marked by war and upheaval. Today, this new democracy is developing its identity and seeking a bright future. KYEP students feel strongly about contributing to this process. They are preparing for careers in the law, architecture, journalism, physics, and information technology. KYEP allows students to improve their skills and make connections that will deepen their impact in Kosovo. KYEPers also learned some things they did not expect. “I probably learnt the most important lesson in life: that you cannot be happy and appreciative to the people around you, without being able to be happy with yourself first,” offers Arbias. Next year, KYEP will continue working with Mayfield High School and Magnificat High School. New partner schools include St. Edward High School and the Renaissance School of Humanities & International Studies at Cleveland Heights High School. Partner schools cite the global connection as one of the most rewarding parts of the program. Students who attend classes with KYEP participants are exposed to a broader perspective and learn about the world in a more personal, immediate way. The program, however, can’t function without host families. Three Cleveland-area families hosted KYEP students over the 2012-13 academic year. Families and students alike say that the most rewarding part of the program is getting to know one another, and getting to feel like a true family. “Gresë and our daughter have become like sisters and are inseparable,” says Gresë’s host father. “We will miss her so much when she leaves.” But KYEP families and students know that the end of the program doesn’t mean the end of the relationship: “It is hard to imagine not seeing someone you grew so close to anymore,” says Arbias, so, of course “I [will] stay in touch with my host family, because they have given me a gift that is very rare in life, so simple yet so unusual – love!” CCWA is seeking host families for the 2013-14 academic year in the communities of our partner schools: Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District, Mayfield School District, Magnificat High School, and St. Edward High School. Families who are interested in other cultures, open to new experiences, and interested in making a lifelong friend should apply. To apply, please visit our KYEP website: www.ccwakyep.org or contact Madeline Rife at mrife@ccwa.org, 216-255-9007. The application deadline is June 3, 2013.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Cleveland Council on World Affairs May 30, 2013 at 02:36 PM
The deadline has been extended to June 3! Apply now at http://www.ccwakyep.org or by contacting Madeline Rife at mrife@ccwa.org, 126-255-9007.

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