Saturday, May 30, 2009

Youth Exchange and Study - YES Afghanistan

This exchange student program has placed Afghan high school students in the USA every year since 2004. I was asked to accompany the first class of students on their return to Kabul in the summer of 2005. That trip also served as my introduction to Ted Achilles, then the director of the Kabul office of American Councils for International Education.

for a description of this program. This program was started after the American forces got control of Afghanistan in 2002 as an extension of other central Asian exchange programs managed by Randy Biggers, RPCV Afghanistan and Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State.

2004-2005 was the first year of the program. That year one of the 40 students did not return to Afghanistan because she received a letter from home that her life would be in danger if she returned to Afghanistan. While I was in Kabul, an officer from the US Embassy asked me to accompany him as he visited her former home in Micreon.  That student has since gained permanent residency in the United States and is attending college.

In each succeeding year of the YES Afghanistan program, more students left the program - most of them finding their way to Canada where they are still living. The Canadian government grants them asylum at the border and the US government puts them on a "do not return" list because they have broken the terms of their J1 Visa. 

Check the link below for a recent Fort Wayne, Indiana  newspaper article about the YES Afghanistan program:

Not my choice of headlines - but an honest interview...

He had to save YES | The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, Ind
•If you are interested in hosting an Afghan student, call Terry Dougherty at 639-7379 or e-mail

Here are some pictures from my trip to Kabul in the summer of 2005

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