I remember the day I was finally in the Pre-Departure Orientation Process at the US Embassy in the Dominican Republic, I was feeling anxious, excited and even afraid of what was about to happen. I knew that, in just a few days my life was about to change in such a positive and more productive way, and if you add the fact that it takes 5 months to complete the whole process and be selected for the CCI Program, I’d say that not even believing that you were awarded the opportunity to study abroad for 10 months, seemed like a very normal feeling.
When I landed at the Washington Dulles everything was just as expected, I met Kate Burkett, the program coordinator for NOVA Alexandria Campus, and the others CCI cohorts, and from that moment on I’ve been feeling nothing but joy, gratefulness and an immense desire to get as much knowledge as I can not only in my field of study but also about the American culture and my CCI friends cultures as well.
One thing that made an impression on me was that my first week in the United States happened to be my very first travel outside of my country but to my surprise, they were many others participants going through the same experience, so with the help of my program coordinator at NOVA Annandale, Mrs. Kelly Forbes and Ms. Kate Burkett from Alexandria, we quickly started to get set up into our new life; meeting our apartment mates, getting to know the cultural similarities and differences that we have and taking our first steps into the Community College Initiative Program with the Gateway to Success Program.
So far, I’ve been in the states for three weeks, but the things I’ve learned in this short time makes it feel like it has been months. Such as cultural diversity, cohabit with people that are not you’re family or your lifetime friends, but somehow are becoming the first thing you think when someone mention home and how not to stand out how gently and helpful Americans have been with all of us during this process of getting used to a new system. Once again, I confirm that there must be opportunities like this for people like me and whoever is reading this in order to help us grow and realize of the power and impact that we all have in life and most important in our society. Thank you to the US Department of State, the Community College Consortium and The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for taking a chance on us and believing in young people as the future of our nations.
I’m looking forward to all the opportunities that this year may bring.
Post written by Marlin Chabely Estevez Leon, 2018-2019 CCI Participant at NOVA-Annandale from the Dominican Republic