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November 2019 American Abroad Student of the Month
Maxwell Nelsen, a Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad (YES Abroad) participant, is the U.S. Department of State’s November 2019 American Abroad Student of the Month. From Baltimore, MD, Maxwell is currently studying at Nova International School in Skopje, North Macedonia.
From his first day in North Macedonia, Max has put his host family front and center of his exchange, spending time with his host mom, host grandmother, and his four-year old host brother, Jan. It brings a smile to everyone’s face when Max plays toy cars with Jan and reads him stories—both in English and in Macedonian, the language Max is currently learning. Always considerate and kind, he shows his appreciation and love for his host grandmother, or “Baba,” by eating everything she puts in front of him and praising her cooking every chance he gets, including during his YES Abroad Instagram takeover. Max has shown selfless compassion and care in times of distress for the family. Small gestures, such as buying flowers and candy or reading to Jan, have made all the difference for his Macedonian family in welcoming a new son into their lives. This strong family relationship has been a solid basis from which Max draws strength in all other challenges and successes. Through his kind and thoughtful nature, Max gets along well with everyone and is someone people can always turn to for advice. He is very independent, but always ready to help others.
Max has excelled academically as well. He has straight As in his host school and even took part in a project during his school’s “Week Without Walls.” Max was on a carpentry team that created a piece of furniture for charity, which the school principal has agreed to buy and place in her office.
Max is enthusiastic about learning the Macedonian language and culture and is able to navigate his way around town as a local resident. After one month in Skopje, he and the other YES Abroad students were part of a morning show on the national TV station where they spoke of their experience thus far and promoted the YES program. Max was able to introduce himself and talk about favorite meals and activities in the local Macedonian language.
Max is curious, kind, and unfailingly generous, making him an exemplary exchange student. He has fully embraced the YES program, and dedicated himself to the mission of YES Abroad and to being a cultural ambassador.