How to Apply for the K-L YES Program Scholarship

Ching Yee with her host parents.

Tang Ching Yee is an alumni of the YES Exchange Program. She went abroad for six months to the United States after SPM on scholarship and experienced many wonderful things there. She has since returned and is currently pursuing her Diploma in Mass Communication at Han Chiang College in Penang. Today, she is here to share with us the application process for the K-L Yes Scholarship.

                                Ching Yee posing at the statue of John Harvard

I believe at some point in life, we start to question our identity. Having an identity distinguishes yourself from the others, giving you the sense of belonging in this society that is vastly differentiated in so many ways. How would you introduce yourself in a few sentences that can represent you as a whole? For me, my identity is formed by experiencing this amazing journey that has left a huge impact in my life.

Hello, my name is Tang Ching Yee and I'm a YES Alumni Malaysia. Before we begin, let me give you a quick background on YES.
YES (Youth Exchange Study) is cultural exchange program funded by the Department of State in USA that aims to promote mutual understanding between United States of America and countries that has a significant Muslim population since the 911 tragedy.
I was one of the lucky 45 students who received the K-L YES scholarship and went abroad to America for 6 months in 2014. Being a YES returnee definitely established my identity as I have become a product of this life changing adventure. It was only when I was outside of my comfort zone that I discovered my potential that I turned into strength, which pushed what I once thought was the limit.
(P.S: I highly recommend the YES program to high school students who are ready to be awesome *self-praise*)
The organizing program in Malaysia is called AFS (American Field Service) which conducts exchanges to many countries including Italy, Denmark, China, and they vary in duration too. You can apply for local full or partial scholarships as most of them are paying programs. However, USA differs from the others because the only way to join the exchange program is to obtain a K-L YES scholarship. This prestigious scholarship is only available for form 5 students and it includes a few levels of selection process.
Ching Yee with her host parents.

Step One: Apply
First, apply for the AFS general selection through your local chapter. You can visit to download the application form. Usually, applications are open in February and closes in April every year.
You will be required to provide your personal information, three of your preferred country, and an essay! I found the essay a little tricky because it has a limit of 100 words for an introduction of yourself. For a word of advice, keep it (very) simple and include just the outstanding points.

Step Two: The Interview
You will then be selected to attend a preliminary interview in your local chapter. This is not as formal as a regular job interview because while waiting for you turn; the AFS volunteers will carry out group activities to relieve everyone's tension. The interviewers are mostly looking for students who are unique and have shown leadership qualities in co-curricular activities.
And (for the love of god) please get your facts right because they are certainly choosing people who are knowledgeable on their own country rather than someone who bombards them with stupid answers.

Step Three: The Final Frontier
After some time, you will be informed whether you are one of the 120 applicants who have made it to the national interview of the K-L YES scholarship. Otherwise, you will be offered other countries to go to. For the national interview, the stakes are high. Only one third among all the talented applicants will successfully receive the scholarship, the gateway to the great land of America.
You will be required to attend a two-day Selection Camp in the allocated venue (usually a hotel). Trust me; this is nothing like a boot camp but yet another inspiring fun-filled camp. It was the first eye-opening experience for me. I witnessed the multi-cultural essence of Malaysia coming into one by having each of us sharing the same dream in that very ballroom.
I've met so many different but equally awesome people from all around Malaysia - from the villages of Borneo to Johor Baharu. The group activities which included team building and doing presentations gave us the chance to bond and express our creativity. They really took my mind off the pressure of the interview and helped me gain self-confidence.
My panel of interviewers consists of the committee members of YES Alumni Malaysia and returnees who were from way back in one of the first few batches that went on a AFS program. The most important advice I can give to you is BE YOURSELF, because staying true to yourself is the best version of yourself you can ever be.

Ching Yee with her American friends before prom! (The exchange students get to experience school life abroad as well)

Saying goodbye was quite a tearful moment even though we only got along for two days. But it was just another few weeks until the next tearful moment - when I got the news that I was a successful applicant for the K-L YES scholarship. It was a moment when I believe that I can do anything.

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