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Ray & Debi Martin - Host Parents - California

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Hosted 14 students including Rasheed from Yemen

Rasheed"Over the past 24 years, we have hosted 14 exchange students from many different countries but never from the Middle East.  This past semester was our first experience with a Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) student from Yemen. Rasheed was a great representative of his country. He held several presentations at school about his country and his culture and impressed everyone with his candor and enthusiasm. He is very proud of Yemen, and he showed us his native garb, pictures and traditional dance. When we traveled to San Francisco, we went to a Yemeni restaurant. Over the year, we had numerous discussions about the similarities and differences between Yemeni and American cultures.

We are strong believers in the power of the exchange experience. When our children were younger, we felt that exchange students opened their eyes to peoplefrom different countries and family backgrounds. Our children are adults now, but we still feel that we can offer exchange students a positive American experience. We hope that real-life experiences here in the US will help increase understanding and reduce stereotypes. This may sound trite, but we truly feel that the people involved in student exchange are doing their part to work towards world peace. Without doubt, hosting an exchange student is a life-changing experience!"

~ Ray & Debi Martin of California

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