When we launched the Rotary Youth Exchange program in Georgia, we knew that we would have to attract some very impressive young people to start the program here. Who knew that we would be lucky enough to find Yasmeen Herb to become our club’s very first representative to the program. Here is her story:
A little more than two years ago, 16-year-old Dunwoody High School junior, Yasmeen Herb, approached us at the Rotary Club of Dunwoody and applied to be considered as a candidate to become a Rotary Youth Exchange student, and represent our club and our district overseas for one academic school year.
At the time she applied to the program, Yasmeen was already an accomplished scholar. She was fully competent in her second language, Spanish, after five years of studying that language, and excelling in Advanced Placement Spanish at her school. Yasmeen also took on the challenges of Advanced Placement Government and Politics, Advanced Placement US History, Advanced Placement Psychology, Advanced Placement American Language and Composition, Physics, Pre-Calculus and Art – 3. Not surprisingly, she was invited to become a member of the National English Honor Society and the National Social Studies Honor Society.
As a young teenager, Yasmeen was already a “citizen of the world”. Her parents’ careers called upon them to travel, and as a result, Yasmeen had the opportunity as a child to visit London, Dubai, Fiji, Tanzania, Egypt, Zambia, Kuwait and the Caribbean. Her fascination for all things international led Yasmeen to become active in the UNICEF club and the International club at Dunwoody High School. In her spare time, she played soccer and served as a soccer referee. She was destined to pursue her international interests! Just what we were looking for at Rotary Youth Exchange.
But Rotary Youth Exchange does not only look for extraordinary young students with a penchant for all things international. We also look for young people with a true commitment to Service Above Self. In her competitive selection interviews, we learned that Yasmeen was no stranger to service, having served as a volunteer for Hands on Atlanta. But she went on to tell us that her most incredible and challenging volunteer experience as a young teenage was the summer when she taught English to women refugees at the International Rescue Committee!
Yasmeen was eventually selected by the Rotary Club of Dunwoody, and later by the District 6900 Rotary Youth Exchange selection committee to be one of our very first student ambassadors to represent Dunwoody and Georgia in a study abroad program for one academic year in a foreign high school, while living with a Rotary selected and trained host family in complete immersion in a foreign language and culture. The country that Rotary chose for Yasmeen’s exchange year was Taiwan!
In her own words, here is Yasmeen’s self-introduction for our meeting on Friday:
“Nĭ hăo! My name is Yasmeen Herb. I spent my senior year in Taiwan as a Rotary Youth Exchange student. I was born and raised in Georgia and am currently a freshman at Georgia Tech studying International Affairs and Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. I’ve lived in Dunwoody almost my entire life, excluding seven months in first grade when I lived in Kuwait with my mom, dad, and brother. Living in Kuwait definitely made me much more curious and eager to live overseas. I love learning about and experiencing new cultures and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life. I always thought it would be amazing to learn Chinese and am so happy that I was able to learn it in Taiwan. I missed my family and my friends very much while I was gone but the experience was definitely worth it. While I continue to practice my Chinese and search for study abroad programs in Taiwan, right now my next stop is
Spain! I am in the process of applying to a university exchange program in Granada, Spain for my sophomore year of college. I truly cannot wait to go abroad again in a new place with a new language and culture.
I can’t thank Rotary or my parents enough for allowing me to go on the amazing adventure that was Taiwan and I look forward to sharing with you the life that I lived and the experiences that I had and how they have truly changed my perspective and my future.”