The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Yes program was established in October, 2002. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, along with the U.S. exchange community, recognized the importance of youth exchange as a key component to building bridges between citizens of the United States and countries around the world, particularly those with significant Muslim populations.
The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs (ECA) to provide scholarships for high school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to study for one academic year in the United States. YES students serve as “youth ambassadors” of their home country, promoting mutual understanding by forming lasting relationships with their host families and communities. Participants live with a host family, attend an American high school, acquire leadership skills, and engage in activities to learn about U.S. society and values; they also help educate Americans about their home country and culture.
The program officially launched in Pakistan in 2003 in hopes to expand communication between the people of the United States and Pakistan in order to promote mutual understanding and respect. Since then, over 1197 Pakistani students have completed the YES program and now participate as alumni.
The YES program is administered in partnership with the U.S. Department of State by a consortium of non-profit organizations led by American Councils for International Education. In Pakistan, iEARN Pakistan manages the YES program in partnership with the local U.S. Embassy, Public Affairs Office.
In keeping with the U.S. Government-sponsored initiatives, dedicated to democratic reform, the competition for the Youth Exchange and Study scholarship is merit-based and open at no cost to all applicants who meet the following requirements:
- Be between the ages of 15-17 by the start of program (August 1, 2019).
- Be enrolled in a secondary school in Pakistan, and be in 9th or 10th grade or ‘O’ Levels at the time of application.
- Have earned minimum marks of 60% in all major/core subjects (English, Mathematics, Sciences) in the last class attended without any failing grades, and have an overall minimum average mark of 60% for the past three years. (Students with a gap year or a repeated year are ineligible.)
- Be able to communicate in English. Applicants must have earned a minimum mark of 60% on the last English exam (2017-18) and minimum marks of 60% for the previous two years (2015-16 and 2017-18).
- Meet U.S. J-1 visa eligibility requirements (for instance, U.S. citizens are not eligible for J-1 visa).
- Be a citizen of Pakistan and reside in Pakistan.
- Must not have traveled to the United States.
Note: Applicants must earn minimum marks of 60% in all subjects on the examination (the annual exams that will be held in 2019) that will be held prior to departure to the U.S. Students will be required to send their mark sheets from the last examination.
Students with Disabilities
The program can support students with disabilities and encourages their participation. The Department of State and the YES program work with Mobility International (MIUSA) to provide students with disabilities leadership-building workshops, appropriate information and support as needed to enhance their year in America. Students with disabilities must also meet the above eligibility requirements.