6 Suriname Students Visit United States

Paramaribo - Six junior high school students are preparing to leave for the United States of America (USA), where they spend 10 months on the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program, an exchange program between, among others, Suriname and the US. In 2002, the United States Department of State started with this project and provided funding for it.


Exchange: Since 2009, Suriname has been participating. According to Susan Ross, Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy, a total of 16 junior high school students have been to the US. Although the 6 selected students will leave on 21 August, it was decided to hold the farewell and welcome party in the residence of US Ambassador John Nay as, according to Ross, July and August are busy months for the US Embassy. Suriname is the only country in South America that participates in this exchange program. Up till now, the Embassy is satisfied with the outcome.

International Education and Resource Network (iEARN): Suriname is in charge of preparations to the Embassy in selecting the candidates. Ambassador Nay, who shortly addressed those present, thought it a good opportunity for the students who have returned, to share their experiences with those about to leave. Parents that are a little worried can also learn from others how they managed 10 months without their child. Ambassador Nay comforts them by saying that up till now, everyone has returned safely. The students have matured, have learned more and know exactly what they want.

More boys: The new group is the fourth crop of students in Suriname. But this year, it is the tenth time that the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program is implemented. 5,330 students have participated worldwide. According to iEARN Suriname chairman Dave Abeleven, the program has a nationwide character. Next year, Brokopondo, Marowijne and Para will certainly be included. Abeleven is, however, not satisfied with the number of boys that registers. Only three of the 16 boys that had registered left for the US. Only two boys are participating in the new crop. This is not new as it is also reflected in education. Still, the organization will determine how to involve more boys. On their return, the youngsters have to implement a community project.

Bjorn Filemon (17) has just returned from the US and looks back upon an instructive period. The material was familiar. Language was neither a problem. Next school year, he may enroll in the second form of pre-university school (VWO). Sabrina Berrenstein (15) says she is very nervous. In fact, she finds it difficult to express her feelings as they are a mixture of happiness and missing her loved ones. But she is preparing well and learning from the experiences of her predecessors. Sharona Rein, Sueyen Asmoredjo, Dean Davids, Dewi Karijopawiro and Jyotisch Shyamnarain will travel along with her to the US.