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The YES program was established by Congress in October 2002.

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The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State and offers students from countries not normally included in traditional high school exchange program to experience a year in an American high school. Each year, the YES Program bring hundreds of students to the U.S. IRIS has worked with this program since it began in 2003 and through this effort have made it possible for more than 900 high school scholars from around the world to live and study in Iowa!


Learn More

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 515-978-4464 or email!


The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program were established by Congress in October 2002 in response to the events of September 11, 2001. It is a program of the U.S. Department of State through the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to provide scholarships for high school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend up to one academic year in the United States. 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.

The program has continued to expand and now includes students from the following countries: Albania, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Israel (Arab Communities), Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, North Macedonia, Malaysia, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, and West Bank. To learn more about the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program, visit the YES Program website.  


Do they speak English?

YES. All YES students pass stringent oral and written English proficiency exams before they arrive in the U.S.

What are the ages of YES students?

The YES students are 15-18 years old during their time on the program in the U.S.

What does a host family look like? 

Many people think host families need to be a married couple with children the same age as the exchange student. This is not the case. Host families can be single individuals, grandparents, no children, large family, or any combination in between. There is no "ideal" host family. Just a family or individual that is willing to open their hearts and home to a deserving high school exchange student. 


We are busy. Should we wait until life slows down?

NO. Busy families are provide students with a more true taste of America life and can give students more opportunities to get involved in their community, as well as their school. Busy families also help students understand the importance of planning and communication in their lives. 


What is expected of a host family? 

Host families are volunteers who provide the student a bed to sleep in and place to study, three meals a day, normal transportation, and general parental supervision. More importantly, families welcome the students as a family member, sharing their experience, and guiding them as they would their own children. IRIS local coordinators are available to help and support our host families and students throughout the year. 


Why these students?

The YES program focuses on countries with significant Muslim populations, which not only provides students from countries not normally included in high school exchange programs, but also helps educate Americans about these students and their countries and cultures. Each student has been chosen for the YES program to represent their country and promote international understanding. 

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