Laiba’s Story: I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for the world!

Greenheart loves to hear from our travelers about what their cultural exchange experience here in the USA means to them. What is it like to be in a new country, trying new foods and seeing different ways of life?  Laiba from Pakistan recently sent us a bit about her year so far.  She’s in high school in Missouri and having a great time getting to know her host family, community, and life in the USA.  Here’s what she had to say:

“I’m proud of myself for making the decision”

I’m Laiba, an exchange student from Pakistan. I’m 16 years old. I love playing the guitar and writing songs. My exchange year is the best thing I’ve ever done. I am really proud of myself for making the decision to do it and then actually doing it.

I am placed in Missouri with the Patillo family–my host mom, dad, and two host sisters. I love them so much because from the moment I stepped into their house, they made me feel like their own. We go to movies together and we love binge watching Greys Anatomy.

I really miss the food from my home country. In my country we eat very spicy food and in America people don’t eat as many spices.  I’ve made a lot of food for my host family and I’ve failed at recipes too.

Life In Missouri

Back in Pakistan, I live in a really big city. So living in a small Missouri town is a new experience for me and it has been amazing. There are so many things I get to do. Since I live on a farm, I rode a horse for the first time. I also experienced my first snow and it was awesome. I went sledding and hooding. I love how everyone here knows everyone since it’s a small town. I love experiencing the farm life.

I love my high school. I have so many friends and I’m so grateful for all of them. My courses include Pre-Calculus, Choir, Theatre, US History, Human body systems, English, Art, and Sociology. I’m also in the drama club and the World Cultural Club. It’s an honour to be a youth ambassador for my country. During International Education Week, I had the opportunity to give presentations about my country and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Volunteering and Giving Back to my Community

I’ve also done more than 65 hours of volunteering. Giving back to your community is an incredible feeling. I’ve never volunteered this much before and now I know how much positivity it brings to your daily life. Volunteering is something I will continue to do for the rest of my life.

“I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for the world”

I’m really grateful that I got to do this exchange year and I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for the world. I’m really excited for my last few months here and I really hope I bump into Taylor Swift some day before going back home.


Thank you Laiba! 

I think we can all agree…there are a lot of us who would like to bump into Taylor Swift one day!  We are glad you are here! Thanks for sharing your story!

If you spark to this story and want to help a foreign exchange student’s dreams come true, consider being a host family.  Learn more about hosting an international exchange student.

Laiba competed in a scholarship contest to earn her exchange year here in the USA. The U.S. Department of State’s Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program provides high school students from countries with significant Muslim populations the opportunity to live and study for an academic year in the United States. Applicants compete for YES scholarships through a rigorous, merit-based selection process. Those who win scholarships live with American host families, attend high school, and engage in community service and civic education activities.  YES students serve as youth ambassadors of their home country, promoting mutual understanding and forming lasting relationships with their host families and communities.  They have the opportunity to learn about U.S. society and values and also help educate Americans about their home country and culture.  The YES program was established by Congress in October 2002 in response to the events of September 11, 2001.  Learn more about the YES Program and the scholarships that help students like Laiba experience the U.S. way of life.