Returnee Spotlight on: Raysieo Duakin

Raysieo Duakin with Elibet and Angela who are a part of the Bay Area's Returnee Event Committee

September 24, 2014 - Last month, Raysieo Duakin, AFS returnee, volunteer and Returnee Coordinator for the San Francisco Bay Area Team, helped to organize “Returnee ReUnite”, an event that brought returnees from across the Bay Area together to celebrate their exchange and discuss their shared experiences as returnees.

Raysieo elaborates on his AFS experience:

How did you first get involved with AFS?

I am from Malaysia and I first got involved with AFS in 2010 when I took a gap year program to Japan.

How did your experience with AFS impact your future? What are you up to now?

My AFS experience impacted my life in two ways. It allowed me to discover my new interest in earth sciences through the biology class that I took while in Japan. It also helped me to understand and appreciate cultural diversity by interacting with not only Japanese people, but also exchange students from all over the world. I am now a junior, studying geology at UC Berkeley.

How did you get involved with the San Francisco Bay Area Team?

When I first came to the US, it brought back my AFS experience as I faced challenges to adapt with American cultures. Seeking for support and hoping to share my experience, I contacted the SF Bay Area Team in my second semester, and that was when Katrine, the Community Developer, nominated me to participate in AFS Returnee Leadership Summit in Washington, DC. Since then, I have been actively volunteering at both national and local orientations. The most recent event for Bay Area returnees was Returnee ReUnite Potluck event, which was held at Crissy Field in early August, and it went really well, considering that it was our first ever returnee event. Many thanks to Holly Oskoii, Angela Arata, Elibet Jimenez, Isobel Reed, and many other returnees who helped out with the event.

What is the most rewarding part of being involved with AFS as a returnee and volunteer – especially as a Returnee Coordinator?

Definitely meeting people of different backgrounds! For example, during SF Bay Area’s first ever Returnee ReUnite Potluck event, I met a returnee, who just got back from France two weeks prior to the event and a Thai returnee, who went to Japan more than 20 years ago! Hearing stories from two different generations makes me think how AFS experience transcends through ages and will always be enlivened.

If you could give one piece of advice to AFS Returnees, what would it be?

Keep sharing your AFS story and you will be amazed at how far it can bring you!

Raysieo Duakin with Elibet and Angela at the Returnee ReUnite

Become a Returnee Coordinator!

Returnee volunteers like Raysieo are valuable to AFS because they share their exchange experience with other returnees, volunteers, hosted students, and potential AFSer! Returnee Coordinators are AFS volunteers who support the returnees in their team and welcome them into the AFS family. Learn more about becoming a Returnee Coordinator or simply registering as an AFS volunteer!