Since I was in 6th grade, our family has hosted an Algerian high school student for two weeks through the Algerian Youth Leadership Program. It’s by far the highlight of every summer, and I’ve come to anticipate the event months in advance. I always meet the coolest people and learn more about their culture every year.
This year, we hosted a 16 year old girl named Yousra. She was from Algiers, the large industrial capital of Algeria. She spoke French, Arabic, English, and even Japanese- she loves anime and manga. In many cultures, including hers, dogs are seen as dirty animals and are definitely not kept as pets. After one day with our border collie, Lily, you would never have thought that Yousra had been afraid of dogs. She’d never seen a frisbee before, but by the end of the week she would throw it for the dog for hours at a time.
We took her to a baseball game, her first American sporting event. We asked her if she understood what was happening and she said, “Nope. I just clap whenever everyone claps!” She had so much fun, and it was an amazing feeling to introduce her to little facets of our culture, just like she introduced me to hers.
She brought henna and we gave ourselves matching “tattoos”, showed me the French and Arabic pop music that everyone in Algeria was listening to, and helped me with my French pronunciation. I miss her a lot, but social media allows us to keep in touch, just as I’ve kept in touch with all the previous students that have stayed with us!