Hi, my name is Salma Derhmi and I was selected for the Hawaii Scholarship of 2018. I come from a small country in Northern Africa called Tunisia and I’ve never had the chance to go outside of it.

Thanks to the KLYES program, I won a scholarship to become an exchange student in Minneapolis, Minnesota and so far it has been the best year of my life. I never thought it could get better for me, but it did. Because I enjoyed volunteering in the US so much, I wrote about it to Greenheart and I was selected along with three other YES students to go volunteer in Oahu, Hawaii for six days!

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It’s been more than a month since I went to Hawaii and I still think it was a dream! Ever had so much fun and been so immersed in the moment that you forget to check your phone or stop waiting for the day to end but wonder instead what the next morning has to bring? Well that’s how I felt while in Hawaii.

Everyday was a new adventure, whether it was snorkeling at the beautiful Hanuma Bai beach, hiking at the Coco Crater stairs, surfing in Diamondhead beach or going on the catamaran cruise and watching whales along with the most breathtaking sunset. It was amazing.

Volunteering in Oahu was another type of adventure. Here is my group volunteering at Papahana Kuaola’s farm and learning about native plants and how to protect them from invasive ones.

Volunteering at the institute of human services and learning how to help homeless people find their way in society.

And finally, volunteering to clean up a beach from fire’s leftovers.

Pictured here: my awesome group, whom I miss dearly.

We were all from different parts of the world and placed in different host families and environments in the US with completely different experiences. Yet those differences created the most interesting conversations and the most fun. I learnt more about the WWII while visiting Pearl Harbor than in books by hearing about it from more than 8 country’s points of view. We shared laughs and tears together.

And because friends everywhere matter, we kept in touch and two of them are coming to visit me in Tunisia next year!

I’d also like to thank the island and its people, for being so welcoming and cheerful. For the fresh air, the warm sun and the cool ocean breeze.

It was magical, it’s like something in the air would put you in a good mood instantly.

I would like to thank Greenheart, Thank you for giving me this opportunity and believing in me to make a difference.
Last but not least, I would like to thank the YES program, I wouldn’t be living my dreams if it weren’t for your support and help.

I hope this article would inspire you to go and live your own adventure!

Sincerely,
Salma

Learn more about how you can host a student like Salma!