Muhammad Barustan from Indonesia has been selected as February 2014 YES Student of the Month. Since arriving in West Salem, Wisconsin, he has embraced his community and life with his host family, the Andersons, and has immersed himself in community service, sports, and school clubs.
As the holiday season came around, Muhammad noticed that a lot of donations were for children in need, and that not very much was done to recognize adults or parents. Muhammad took matters into his own hands and organized a community service project, “Bags of Hope,” to create gift baskets for adults. Muhammad went around the community and his school to ask for donations of such things as shampoo, lotion, deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste, combs, magazines, and activity books. He filled 70 bags in total. On the night the bags were to be distributed, he got his school choir to donate its time and sing while the bags were being delivered. This project inspired his host family to give back, too. His host father, who is a bus mechanic, decided to fill a bus with food as part of a food drive. Muhammad was extremely excited to be able to serve the community that has accepted him and helped him integrate so well. Muhammad wrote in a photo essay after the activity, “My goal in life is to be a useful person for the people. When I get back to Indonesia, I’ll bring my volunteer activities and fundraise for people in my country.”
By February, Muhammad had completed 45 hours of volunteer service, with his goal for the year to complete over 100 hours. He volunteers weekly at the Good Samaritan Center, joined in a clean-up with his host family and has participated in numerous other local projects.
Muhammad has been a great addition to West Salem High School, where he earns straight A’s, played on the soccer team and is currently on the wrestling team. With his school’s Business Club, he undertook a project exploring how to make the local Oktoberfest more family-friendly. Muhammad, who also enjoys music in his spare time, aspires to be a doctor and a businessman in the future.
Muhammad’s local coordinator, Sherry Kneifl, considers him “impressive and inspirational” for herself and everyone in his community and notes that he is a wonderful role model for his younger host brother. His placement organization, ACES, recently awarded him a scholarship to participate in the Better Understanding for a Better World conference.