BRATTLEBORO -- Ali Hallal has been named the Windham Regional Career Center’s May 2014 student of the month. Ali is an exchange student from Lebanon, spending his junior year at Brattleboro Union High School and taking advantage of course offerings available to him at the Career Center. Ali is from the city of Nabatieh, located in southern Lebanon.
Ali’s coursework at the Career Center has been through its Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) department. They have included Digital Electronics, Architecture & Construction Graphics, and Fiber Optic Photon. He’s considered himself very fortunate to have had these course opportunities. He shared, "These have been awesome courses. I have exchange student friends from all over the state and I’m one of the few who have had the availability of technical courses like these. I feel very lucky to have attended the Career Center and to have had such great teachers."
The admiration has been mutual. David Hotin, one of the Career Center’s STEM instructors, has been very impressed with Ali. "He’s a very nice young man, responsible, and with a terrific sense of humor. He’s been extremely conscientious and has never missed an assignment. I feel like he’s been a great ambassador for his country."
Ali is here through the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program, which was established by Congress in October 2002 in response to the events of September 11, 2001. The program is funded through the U.S. Department of State and sponsored by the Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs (ECA) to provide scholarships for high school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend up to one academic year in the United States. Students live with host families, attend high school, engage in activities to learn about American society and values, acquire leadership skills, and help educate Americans about their countries and cultures.
Ali has not seen his family since arriving in Brattleboro. A stipulation of the program is that he neither travel home nor his family visit him in the states during his year here. He said it was difficult in the beginning. "I was in culture shock at first and missing my home and family. It’s still hard at times, but now I know I can do it, and that’s really good to know."
One of Ali’s highlights of his time here was during spring break when he and his host family travelled to Niagara Falls, toured the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, and spent time visiting Chicago.
Ali plans to return to the United States for college, with an intended major in electrical engineering.