The U.S. Department of State has awarded Savannah Woods, a high school student in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, formerly of Hesston, one of 65 scholarships to study abroad on the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Abroad program.

The competitive, merit-based award covers the full cost of an academic year abroad, providing Savannah a full immersion experience through living with a host family in India, attending an Indian high school, and helping develop the skills necessary to be a leader in the global community. The YES Abroad program is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Savannah also is the granddaughter of John and Mary Jane Waltner of Hesston.

Through her participation in the YES Abroad program, Savannah will be at the forefront of citizen diplomacy, serving as a “youth ambassador” in her host country, promoting mutual understanding by building lasting relationships with her host family and friends, and through community engagement in volunteer service and leadership training.

The Kennedy-Lugar YES program was first authorized by the U.S. Congress in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, as an effort to increase dialogue and understanding between the U.S. and countries with significant Muslim populations. Initially created as a program for international high school students to live and study in the United States, the YES program was expanded in 2007 to include YES Abroad for American high school students.

The YES Abroad program provides opportunities for Americans to study for an academic year in select countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey.

The YES Abroad program is administered by a consortium of non-profit organizations led by American Councils for International Education and including AFS-USA, AMIDEAST, and iEARN-USA. Exchanges taking place in India are administered by AFS. AFS is a worldwide, nonprofit organization that has been a leader in international exchange for more than 60 years. Visit for more information on studying abroad, hosting an exchange student, or bringing intercultural learning into the classroom.

For more information about the YES Abroad program, including information on how to apply for the 2014-15 academic year, visit For more information about hosting a YES international exchange student, visit