I have been a program coordinator for the past four years and it has been an amazing and life changing experience. It’s not without some hesitation that I am leaving, but it’s time. I was asked to publish my remarks from our end of year ceremony on May 10, 2019, so here they are…
We often talk about the impact of the CCI Program—the impact the program has on the participants and the impact the participants have on campus and in our community. Leeza mentioned the extraordinary number of hours and the associated dollar value that this amazing group contributed through volunteering and internships. What I think is more extraordinary is the immeasurable impact that they have had on the people who they have met during their short time here.
How do you measure the spark of creativity when several minds from diverse backgrounds and different countries come together to solve a problem, whether it’s in the classroom, Model UN, or at MyBook?
How can you measure the excitement of the young girls who got to visit the Embassy of the Dominican Republic and meet the Ambassador with Marlin and Eylül or the excitement of the children who had lunch with Santa and a Brazilian elf named Schawany?
How can you measure the pride and sense of accomplishment that children felt when Sundar taught them how to play chess, when Sara and Masud helped them solve a math problem, or when Helen helped them make crafts at a kids festival?
How do you measure the awakening of a young explorer who learned about Indonesia for the first time from Elfis and Virdiani when they interned at FACETS?
How can you measure the joy that Sibusiso, Kekeli, Williams, Emmanuel, John Evans, and Patrick brought to the residents at the Lincolnia Senior Center?, where combined they volunteered over 300 hours serving meals, playing games, and simply having conversations with the senior residents, some of whom have no family close by to visit them.
How do you measure the gratitude an event organizer feels to have reliable and enthusiastic help to pull off a successful event?, whether it’s a book sale at a local library, the Wolf Trap Holiday Sing-a-Long, TedEx Tysons, or a large festival? I don’t know how to measure it, but I know that they feel it, because they ask for the CCI participants to come back and help again and again.
How do you measure the friendships and bonds that were created over the past ten months between these CCI participants from 12 different countries and between them and their social hosts?
How do you measure the lessons learned, the culture and traditions that were shared, the mutual understanding that was built? We may not be able to assign a numerical value to these things, but the impact is no less valuable. These are the stepping stones for building more peaceful and inclusive societies, where people recognize the value and strength in diversity. This is the foundation for strengthening relationships between our countries—those people to people connections that start with the CCI Program and last a lifetime.
Post written by Kelly Forbes, CCI Program Coordinator at NOVA Annandale from 2015-2019.