YES Program

Become a host family for the 2018-19 school year.*


Bah, Thailand

Age: 17

Gender: female

Family: mom, dad, older brother

Languages: Thai, English, Malayu, Arabic

Career Goals: patisserie, food scientist

Activities & Interests: cycling, baking pastries, gardening, feeding cats, cooking, reading, tug-of-war competitions, races

Dzaki, Indonesia

Age: 16

Gender: male

Family: mom, dad, three younger siblings

Languages: Bahasa (Indonesian language), English

Career Goals: ambassador

Activities & Interests: class representative, English Club, sports, traveling, swimming, trying new things

Faiza, Bangladesh

Age: 15

Gender: female

Family: mom, dad, 1 brother, 1 older sister, 1 younger brother, grandma

Languages: Bengali, English

Career Goals: physics professor

Activities & Interests: handball, badminton, cycling, debate club, volunteering, music lessons, painting, reading, physics Olympiad, scouts

Ifada, Indonesia

Age: 17

Gender: female

Family: mom, dad, three older siblings

Languages: Bahasa (Indonesian language), Japanese, English

Career Goals: doctor

Activities & Interests: 2D art, math, Japanese language and culture, tennis

Lakshmi, India

Age: 15

Gender: female

Family: mom, dad, 3 brothers

Languages: Hindi, English, Kannada

Career Goals: doctor

Activities & Interests: sports, reading, gardening, listening to music, playing with pets, school newspaper, cooking, arts & crafts

Maryam, Pakistan

Age: 14

Gender: female

Family: mom, dad, 2 younger brothers

Languages: Balochi, Urdu, English

Career Goals: artist or teacher

Activities & Interests: speech competitions, horse riding, writing, volunteering, book club, painting, road trips with her family

Shahmir, Pakistan

Age: 16

Gender: male

Family: mom, dad, older brother

Languages: Urdu, English

Career Goals: astronaut, technology, coding

Activities & Interests: running, mixed martial arts, reading, Netflix shows, basketball, volleyball, videography, listening to musi

Middle East

Dania, Jordan

Age: 16

Gender: female

Family: mom, dad, 1 brother, 1 sister

Languages: Arabic, Circassian, English, French

Career Goals: undecided

Activities & Interests: swimming, yoga, traditional dancing, poetry, volunteering, Model U.N. Club, skiing, baking Allergies: cats, pollen

Demir, Turkey

Age: 17

Gender: male

Family: mom, dad

Languages: Turkish, English, German

Career Goals: diplomat

Activities & Interests: tennis, archery, guitar, theater, volunteering, debating club, drawing maps, cooking, astronomy, history, riding bicycle, science olympiad

Lina, West Bank

Age: 15

Gender: feale

Family: mom, dad, brother, 2 younger sisters

Languages: Arabic, English, German, Hebrew

Career Goals: psychologist

Activities & Interests: basketball, volleyball, reading, Japanese animation, shopping, traditional Dabke dance, robotics, Arabian ‘oud’ instrument lessons

Ran, Israel (Arab Communities)

Age: 16

Gender: Male

Family: mom, dad, grandparents, younger brother and younger sister

Languages: sign language, English, Arabic, Hebrew

Career Goals: information technology

Activities & Interests: rugby, working out, volunteering, playing video games and cards with friends, listening to and writing music

Salah, Lebanon

Age: 15

Gender: male

Family: mom, dad, 2 older brothers, grandmother

Languages: Arabic, English

Career Goals: physics professor, scientist

Activities & Interests: soccer, reading, volunteering

Sayed, Bahrain

Age: 16

Gender: male

Family: mom, dad, 3 older sisters

Languages: Arabic, English, learning Persian

Career Goals: civil engineer

Activities & Interests: soccer, Toastmaster’s, coding, video games, learning Persian, reading, family gatherings, camping

Zeynep, Turkey

Age: 15

Gender: female

Family: mom, brother

Languages: Turkish, English

Career Goals: doctor

Activities & Interests: volleyball, playing guitar, social responsibility club, reading, spending time with friends, movies, music, violin lessons


Ahmed, Egypt

Age: 16

Gender: Male

Family: mom, dad, sister, brother

Languages: Arabic, French, English

Career Goals: engineer

Activities & Interests: rowing, violin, would like to learn American football, diving, and programming in the U.S.

Ally, Tanzania

Age: 17

Gender: male

Family: mom, older sister

Languages: Swahili, English

Career Goals: mechanical engineer

Activities & Interests: soccer, watching movies, reading books, checkers

Amahle, South Africa

Age: 15

Gender: female

Family: mom, 1 older sister, 2 younger brothers

Languages: Xhosa, English, Africaans

Career Goals: dermatologist

Activities & Interests: swimming, netball, cross-fit, guitar, reading, cooking, social media

Allergies: cats

Lydia, Kenya

Age: 15

Gender: female

Family: mom, dad, 1 younger brother

Languages: Kiswahili, Dholuo, English

Career Goals: neurosurgeon 

Activities & Interests: soccer, drama, reading, fairy tales movies, running races, folksongs, poetry, dancing, pets

Mugabe, Liberia

Age: 16

Gender: male

Family: legal guardians, older brother and sister

Languages: English

Career Goals: teacher

Activities & Interests: quizzing, newspaper, church, speech, spending time with friends

If you want more information about a particular student or hosting in general, contact IRIS today! Schools have limited spots for exchange students, so time runs out quickly to get students placed in some districts.


 Call 515-292-7103 or email!


*Please note, photos used above are of former IRIS students, not the student listed. Due to privacy rules during the placement of students, only potential host families who have completed a criminal background check may see the actual photos of students and read their host family letter.

KL-YES Logo 2010-fh copyIRIS is pioneering an effort to offer students from all over the world participation in a traditional high school exchange program. Since becoming affiliated with the YES program in 2003, IRIS has made it possible for more than 400 high school scholars to live and study in Iowa!


The YES Program is a scholarship program created in 2002 by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).  It was developed to help young people understand that Christians and Muslims can live in peace, respect one another’s religion and develop common goals for community improvement in their home countries.  Since its infancy, the YES program has expended its mission to 40 different countries, such as Lebanon, Turkey, Yemen, Morocco. The program also exposes students who do not normally have the opportunity to travel outside their own region to experience other parts of the world.

YES scholars are chosen from countries with significant Muslim populations to participate in an academic-year program funded by Congress and administered by the Department of State

In addition to attending school, students live with volunteer host families and engage in volunteer service and participate in activities to learn about American society, acquire leadership skills and help educate Americans about their country and culture.

To learn more about the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program, visit the YES website.

Why these students?

The YES program focuses on countries with significant Muslim populations. The program also helps these students live the American high school experience for one academic year.  With the goal of helping educate Americans about the students’ countries and cultures,

 the YES program provides scholarships to scholarly, English-speaking high school students worldwide.  These students are viewed as the future leaders of the world. Each students has been chosen for the YES program to represent their country and promote 

international understanding, development, and peace. Although the majority of IRIS’ YES exchange students have come from Nigeria and Tanzania, since 2012, Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study students hail from 40 countries worldwide.

Questions? Click here for FAQs!

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