Life in the U.S. / Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight – Syifa from Indonesia

Today we are thrilled to shine a spotlight on Syifa from Indonesia, who is spending her 2023-24 year with the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program sponsored by the US Department of State in the beautiful state of Nebraska! Syifa is embracing new adventures and stepping out of her comfort zone as she joins the golf team at her local high school. She also enjoys showing her appreciation by preparing Indonesian cuisine for her host family! By embracing new activities and connecting through shared experiences, she is breaking barriers, making new friendships, and creating lasting memories that will endure beyond her time in the United States!

Could you tell us about your experience in America with your host family?

My host family has been really kind and welcoming. Sometimes, I cook Indonesian dishes for my host family. It’s a way for me to share a piece of my culture with them. Last time, I made rendang, a delicious Indonesian beef dish. They loved it! It’s fun to introduce them to the flavors of my homeland.

My family here is active in Girl Scouts, and so am I. We have Girl Scouts activities almost every week. It is a bit different because scout is not a part of school activity here. But it is a big chance for me to learn more life-skills by the Girl Scouts. Also, my family and I visited Fun-Plex, the largest water park in Nebraska during the summer. It was an absolute blast! The thrilling rides and refreshing water activities made it a memorable day.

Syifa welcomed by her excited host family in Nebraska!

We also spent three exciting days at the Nebraska State Fair. The two-hour drive from our home was worth it as we enjoyed a multitude of fun activities and indulged in delicious fair food. We stayed at our grandpa’s house during our time there. 

I’ve had the opportunity to set up the venue for robotics tournaments at my host sister’s school. It was fulfilling to be a part of creating an environment for students to showcase their skills and passion for robotics. I also had the chance to be involved in decorating the school hallway for the ‘Boo Bash’ event. By creating an enjoyable and visually appealing setting, I contributed to making the event memorable for all attendees.

How are you liking America so far? Have you experienced any culture shock? 

I’m really enjoying my time in America so far! It’s been an incredible experience getting to know the culture firsthand. One thing I’ve noticed here is that people are exceptionally nice. They greet each other warmly, even if they’re strangers. It’s a simple gesture, but it creates a sense of friendliness.

So far, I don’t feel a big culture shock because I know a lot about America from movies I’ve watched. But a thing that I was surprised to find a lot of people here speak Spanish, especially in my school. I’m also still not used to call older people or my teachers without Mr or Mrs. But overall, I’ve been adapting well and embracing the new culture. 

How are you adjusting to American schools? 

School has been different from what I’m used to. It’s a bit overwhelming with all the moving between classes, but I’m slowly getting used to it. I switch classrooms multiple times a day, which means I meet new people in every class. It’s been a bit challenging, but it’s also been a cool way to make new friends.

I love the way my teachers pretend to act as my friend, not only as my teacher, and they remember my name. I also got to experience a fun American tradition: homecoming week and the party! It was a blast with music, decorations, and everyone dressed up. It was a fantastic introduction to American culture and high school life for me. I found myself immersed in.

Syifa (white hat) on the girls high school golf team in Nebraska.

In my school, I participated in the golf team for the fall sports even though I’ve never played golf before. There were at least 8 golf matches I’ve played this season, and on Monday, October 2nd, we played in district, which is our last game. Even though I’ve never been the winner in a golf match, I am always getting better in each game. Lately, I am always in 2nd place on my team. I am really thankful to my coaches. They are supportive, funny, and sweet.

Syifa (right) smiling with her coaches and teammates!

What motivated you to join the golf team?

When I joined the golf team, I didn’t know anything about playing golf, and mostly schools in my home country don’t have golf sports. So, it was really exciting for me to try something new. Now, after practicing, I’ve gotten a lot better at it, and I can’t wait to keep playing when I go back home. It’s becoming my new favorite thing to do!  


Are you interested in making a student like Syifa a part of your family? We are looking for American host families to welcome a student for Spring semester and the upcoming 2024-25 school year. Check out the profiles of our wonderful students. New student profiles go online every Thursday!