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YES Abroad Alumni Spotlight: Adam Streeter
By Adam Streeter, YES Abroad 2009-2010, Ghana
What are some of your biggest accomplishments since becoming an alum of the YES Abroad program?
I'm proud of the friendships that I've maintained with my host family and other YES alumni since returning from Ghana. Those friendships have introduced me to new parts of the world and taught me a lot about myself and my roots. I've moved a good amount and had to adjust to life in new places since my time on the YES program, and I see how the YES experience taught me to plug in and stay open-minded when meeting new people and figuring out where I fit into different cultural contexts -- even the hometown California culture where I grew up.
What are some of your favorite memories from the YES Abroad program?
Playing soccer and video games with my host brother, Baffour. Watching Spanish soap operas with my host mom, Gillian. Dancing and singing in the hallway with my host sister, Akosua. Visiting my host dad Nathan's hometown with him. Getting in my host sister Akua's way in the kitchen. Traveling to the very north of Ghana with my fellow YES Abroad participants -- a multi-day, multi-city trek that wouldn't have been as fun without good company -- sleeping under the stars at the border of Burkina Faso and then all the way down to Busua Beach in the south. Eating waakye (God's culinary gift to man) in the school cafeteria with Douglas, my best friend from school. Befriending the lady who sold doughnuts on the street corner where I caught the bus to school because I was a frequent customer.
What are some of the ways you’ve stayed connected to fellow alumni since your exchange experience? What about your host family or friends that you met abroad?
Our group of alumni from that year in Ghana have stayed connected and we've visited each other over the years, including to celebrate one of our weddings. We're less in touch than we used to be, but the connection's still there! I'm lucky that I've gotten to see my host family a good amount since returning -- I returned Ghana in 2012 for my eldest host sister's wedding and I've hosted my host siblings in the US a couple times. Most recently in 2022, I got to attend my host sister Akosua's graduation from her Doctor of Pharmacy program in Illinois. It was awesome catching up with her and my host dad (who I hadn't seen in a a whopping 10 years) who flew in for the ceremony. The YES community is worldwide and when I was studying Arabic in the Occupied West Bank in 2014-2016, I was welcomed by Palestinian YES alumni who showed me around and included me in their community service activities. When I was in Illinois for Akosua's graduation, a Palestinian YES alum, Shaker, saw my Instagram story from the graduation and invited me for a tour of St. Louis. He was living 5 minutes away and I had no idea. This massive community makes the world feel small.
What is one piece of advice you would give to current or future YES Abroad program participants?
Learn from people, not just about them. They have a lot to teach you about yourself and where you come from. If you connect with people who you really care about, make a rough plan for staying in touch with them -- your experience doesn't have to end after the program year if you maintain those friendships.
In 10, 20, or even 30 years, what do you hope the legacy of the YES Abroad program will be?
I hope this community continues to grow so that we're always only a few degrees of separation away from somebody who was involved or connected with this program.