iEARN-YES Alumni Spotlight: Daize from Cameroon


In collaboration with various partners and organizations, iEARN-USA helps implement programs that provide opportunities for young people to experience meaningful international exchanges. One such program is the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program. The YES program, funded by the U.S. Department of State, provides scholarships for secondary school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend one academic year in the United States. Students live with host families, attend high school, engage in activities such as community service to learn about American society and values, acquire leadership skills, and help educate Americans about their countries and cultures.

Upon returning to their home countries, students on the YES program become part of the YES Alumni Network. They take on the role of young leaders by organizing projects that benefit their communities while also sharing their experiences on the YES program with their local community. Certain exceptional alumni are featured on the YES Program website for their leadership and involvement within their communities - one such alumna is Daize from Cameroon (YES 2017-18, hosted by PAX in Zanesville, IN) whose alumni feature article is being shared below with her permission: 

From the very start, I have wanted to become the best version of myself in service for humanity. While on the YES program, my greatest lesson was that no one is complete but that we all need each other. I have always been a bold person, but my exchange experience showed me how to channel my zeal and enthusiasm towards the right things. Through public speaking I have made some incredible relationships. I have been given several opportunities to present spoken word at concerts and even at school; I have peers sharing their life stories with me. I’m so grateful for all the connections I have made and continue to make as a YES alumna. It has been a journey of self-discovery and development, one that has taught me that being different is beautiful.


While on exchange, I availed every opportunity to volunteer and every opportunity to build myself as a better leader. The Civic Education Week and the International Education Week were my highlights as an exchange student. All the lessons I learned during these experiences have shaped me into who I am today. The major thing I had in mind while returning home were the community service projects ahead of me. I already had a list of what I planned to accomplish, so much so that returning home to start serving the community was the most exciting thought.

Ever since I came home, I have led and participated in several projects: gender based violence sensitization, town cleaning, donations to orphanages, conferences on sex education, leadership conferences, motivational speaking and a workshop for internally displaced youths.

My project, “Restoring Hope to Internally Displaced Youths”, was a small grant project aimed at equipping 40 youth in my region with self-sustainable skills. Through partnering with some local organizations, and with the help from YES alumni and some volunteers, we trained 40 youth on how to make soap, fish-pies, beaded jewelry, and provided them with free healthcare. We understood that these young people needed something to cling to, a source of income and they needed to know someone cared. The project not only benefited the participants but, I too, got a chance to grow and develop myself. Working with a team of 40 teenagers is a very hard task but together we were able to meet our target for the common good.


Working as a YES alumna has helped me discover my purpose. Through volunteering in several different areas, I have learned what my passion is. During my exchange program, I spent every Wednesday and Sunday with the Sunday school children at my local church (Hope Missionaries). I have always been attached to children. Children are certainly the most innocent beings and shouldn’t have to suffer for any reason. This has inspired me on what I want to do my whole life — dedicate myself to the service of  others, especially children. I plan to open an orphanage that will take these children off the streets and give them a home.

It is with no doubt that everything about me changed when I returned from the YES program. I am more open to new experiences, trying new things, meeting new people, and of course, organizing projects. The program has widened my world to numerous opportunities and advantages. From my host family, to my friends and teachers at school, to the entire staff of the YES program and my friends all around the world —  the program brought the world to me.

I would particularly like to appreciate iEARN-USA for all the opportunities they provided me, on and off the program. While on exchange, the online webinars made my year easier. They invited several alumni who gave ideal tips to easily adapt as an exchange student. 

As a YES alumni, iEARN has given me many opportunities to connect, learn, collaborate and work with other YES alumni. Through the webinars and alumni calls, I have been able to build strong ties with other alumni. The Virtual Alumni Leadership Training was one I would never forget. The training sessions gave me a great push on my path to leadership. Indeed I have been able to maintain relationships and network with other YES alumni, thanks to iEARN-USA.


A few words to the on-program students and alumni around the world: I didn’t come from a wealthy family but the YES program gave me an opportunity to make a wealth of connections and now, I’m more than ready to sacrifice everything I have to make another person’s life better. You have what it takes to make a change so learn to improve yourself. Be different!

Never relent your efforts to make somebody’s life comfortable, we all have what it takes to lead the world. Remember that life isn’t an easy journey but never be afraid to take risks, try everything! SAY YES!