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Far from home, Jordanian student stretches comfort

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Abigaël Thinakaran
HELPING HAND. Ruba Rabab’a, a Kennedy-Lugar Exchange and Study (YES) exchange student from Jordan, prepares asparagus for the Arain family. During her stay, Ruba will attend U-High classes like any other student.

Ruba Rabab’a has spent her whole life in Amman, Jordan, at the Al-Jubeiha School. She knows almost everything about everyone in her school and never got to be a new kid or meet a whole new group of people — an experience similar to that of a Lab lifer.

I have been very impressed by how kind and willing to help all of my classmates and teachers are, and I can’t wait to join clubs and see what the rest of the year holds.”

— Ruba Rubab'a

All of that is about to change.

Ruba applied to the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program to spend a year in a U.S. city as an exchange student. Through the application process, Ruba took tests and filled out forms but finally, she was paired with U-High.

“The program is completely sponsored, which means it’s full scholarship for everyone,” Ruba said. “And that’s really incredible, but it also means there are five levels to the application process and it takes about a year to complete the whole process.”

U-High paired her with two host families to split the year between. The first half will be with the Arain family and the second half with the Hughson family. Although most of the children in the host families are middle and lower schoolers, Aman Arain is a sophomore at U-High and can help Ruba adjust to U-High and its community.

“I have always been the oldest, and Ruba has always been the youngest sibling,” Aman said, “but now I am excited to essentially have an older sibling.”

The Arain family signed up to host because they want to share American culture and learn about Jordanian culture.

“As soon as we met Ruba, she fit right into our family, and I can’t wait to get to know her while she stays with us,”Aman said.

Just like the rest of U-High, Ruba has been back at school for a week. Like any other U-High student, she sometimes gets lost between her locker and classes, and must work through nightly piles of math, science, English and history work.

“I have been very impressed by how kind and willing to help all of my classmates and teachers are,” Ruba said, “and I can’t wait to join clubs and see what the rest of the year holds.”

Along with all of her school and club requirements for the exchange, Ruba also has to do 20 hours of service to her community. Ruba has not picked out her location yet, but cannot wait to give back in anyway she can.

“I really think there is a lot to be said for anyway you can give back to a community, no matter your role in it,” Ruba said, “And I think it’s great that all sophomores are required to do service as well.”

Ruba is considering  U-High community service clubs to complete her service hours. She is interested in clubs like Feminist and Refugee Awareness club

“The number of clubs and opportunities Lab kids have is incredible.” Ruba said, “I am going to take advantage of everything I possibly can. This exchange really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

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Far from home, Jordanian student stretches comfort