Provided by Prince William County
Xavier D’Alesandro was recently chosen to study abroad in Malaysia during the 2021-2022 academic year through the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES Abroad) Program.
The YES Abroad Program was authorized by the U.S. Congress after Sept. 11 to open dialogue and foster understanding between the United States and countries with significant Muslim populations, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, North Macedonia, the Philippines, Senegal, Thailand and Turkey.
D’Alesandro chose a couple of countries where he thought he would like to live and study and wound up with Malaysia. “I listed out my preferences, and they picked Malaysia,” said D’Alesandro, a 16-year-old Osbourn Park High School 10th grader, who is a member of the Prince William Human Rights Student Leadership Council.
“I’ve always loved traveling. I’m a military brat, so I’ve traveled around the country. I lived in Japan for three years, and I like being able to go to all these different places and see all the sights. Malaysia is a country that is really culturally diverse, so I’m excited to see what it has to offer,” said D’Alesandro.
Initially the scholarship program, which is a part of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, brought high school students from other countries to the United States. In 2007, the program was expanded to send U.S. high schoolers abroad to study and represent the United States.
Participation in the merit-based program gives students the skills to become leaders in the global community and puts them at the forefront of citizen diplomacy. Participants live with local families, where they will work on learning the language of their host countries and attend accredited high schools.
D’Alesandro said he got the idea to try for a scholarship to study abroad from his mother Tammy D’Alesandro, a veteran U.S. Navy officer.Together, they found the YES Abroad Program. “I’m feeling great about it,” Tammy D’Alesandro said of her son’s upcoming trip. “It’s a really, really great opportunity. He’s going to be an ambassador for the U.S.”