Category Archives: Alumni

Time Creates Relationships

Nothing can heal the wounds of time.  When global strangers
meet for the first time, it is impossible to quantify the depths of relationships that would soon develop.

Although the following few months these strangers ssifiso-blog-3pend with each other can be dubbed as great times, they are faced with unceremoniously relinquishing the bond that each has developed.

The Community College Initiative (CCI) was an opportunity for me to meet students from different parts of the globe and take part in a culture exchange to create awareness/consciousness about South Africa and our standard of living while learning of cultures outside mine.

The time we were to spend in America seemed immense in the beginning; many of us took longer than others to adjust to being away from family and doing things on our own. This was a challenging transitions that required great patience and understanding.

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 Fransis and Yeison had become my new family and our apartment had become my new home. All three of us were bringing different experiences, cultures, customs, religions and ways of life into one house. Like any family, we had our problems but always found a way around them.


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Time had brought a lot of us closer than we had anticipated. We always celebrated each other’s victories and achievements; encouraged and gave each other a shoulder to cry on when things got overwhelming. We became each other’s biggest fans and sometimes worst critics.

 sifiso-blog-1Like most people in the program I had pockets of homesickness; for the most part it felt as though the closer we edge to our departure date the more excited and anxious we became. Our last month was perhaps the most ‘confusing’ emotively. I was excited about going home to my family and friends in South Africa but also saddened by the reality of having to leave my family and friends in the United States of America.

The CCI-NOVA participants had become family; a home away from home and for the duration of the program they were all I had. The day we had to separate and all head back to our respective countries was perhaps sadder than the day I had to say goodbye to family and friends when I was coming to the USA.sifiso-blog-2

Perhaps we were overwhelmed by the spatiotemporal limitations and having to readjust to not seeing each other as often as we were. Fortunately for us, we live in the age of technology where communication isn’t restricted to people in the same country or area anymore.

It is a pleasure to have met each and every person in the program; It is an honour to have shared and learnt from your advise, wisdom and sometimes encouragement to just “relax and take it easy”

I trust that time has strengthened our bonds to overcome the Kilometres that stand between us. I still maintain that we all have what it takes to change and shape the world to the kind of society we envision for ourselves and future generations.

 We are the ones we’ve been waiting for…

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Post written by  Sifiso Ngobeni, CCI participant at NOVA 2015-2016, South Africa

The Opportunity That Changed My Life!

jeidiGrowing up as a young girl it has been my lifelong dream to travel to the United States and experience other peoples culture and way of education. I did not know how or when it would happen and stop being a dream to become a reality. Luckily for me, the opportunity was presented to me at the least expected moment. God surprised me in a supernatural way. When I received the wonderful news, I was the happiest woman in the world. Every day before the trip what more I  did was look at pictures of where I would live and the college where I was going to study. You can imagine how happy I was.

Challenge In America
One of my biggest challenges in the US was using my English. I was not used to speaking English as I have always communicated in Spanish. My English was not very advanced and I was afraid to make mistakes when speaking, and that people did not understand me. But my English was not as bad as I thought, most people liked it. However, people were very patient to pay attention and help me when I needed. Over the months my English was getting better and better.

Special friendship I made
It would be hard to name a few because I consider I had a good relationship with all CCI participants in Virginia. But I would like to highlight  some people who were always with me and I could build a very strong bond of friendship. Sandra Appiah from Ghana, she was my sweet roommate. She never missed a smile on her face. Sandra always cared of me and I cared for her. Moreen Kajuju from Kenya, with her I had a very pleasant time. We used to go shopping together, cook together, travel together, and sometimes advise each other. The other one is Melisa Múnera from Colombia (Medellin). She is a very lovely person, she was always there for what I needed. That person which dried my tears when I passed difficult moments in my personal life.
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Housemates
I could not ask for more. I had the best housemates ever. I’m very glad to have known them and have had them as my sisters during my stay in the United States. Charmaine (South Africa), Yuli (Indonesia), Luiza (Brazil), Moreen (Kenya) and Sandra (Ghana). They are the best.

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My Favorite Part
Every single day during my stay in the States were my favorites. Knowing I was living and experiencing a completely different life from mine including seasons, new people, new places, new culture and costumes, it just made my days very specials. I have had the opportunity to experience fall, winter and spring which was amazing. It was my first time seeing the leaves fall from the trees, the snow fall from the sky decorating the streets and seeing flowers bloom with beautiful colors, it was very enriching for me. During my time there (January 1st) was my first time of  being in a beach. Yes, my first time I was in Siesta Beach, Florida.
Lastly, I can’t forget to tell about of one of my last trip with my CCI family. We went to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg and I broke the fear of being in a roller coaster for the first time. Those ones, really were two of my best experiences during my journey! I had many more but if I write them down here I wont finish.

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Having such an amazing opportunity to have these experiences not only with American culture but also with thirteen different cultures from all around the world changed my life. I am grateful to all CCI NOVA participants and the two excellent coordinators Jaclyn & Kelly. Without them my experience in the United States would not have been as wonderful and unforgettable as it was.

Post written by Yeidy Daniela Rivas Carabali, CCI Participant at NOVA 2015-2016, Colombia

Contribute. Connect. Interact.

( CCI ), at the beginning meant for as all the people know but after getting the chance and living that experience, I see that it means for me something completely different. Which is ( Contribute. Connect. Interact.)

Contribute is give and take also discuss, share time, share experiences, share cultures, understanding, other visions, different way of thinking and much more.

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Connect, after getting any new idea or thought or any new experience, you start connect all of them to each other and you find out that it means something completely different that what you thought before, is about learning. If you stay in on place for long time you get the best of it but in just one way, but if you spend time and ideas and cultures in different aspects and in different places you get the best of the best and you see the bigger picture, and you can see it from different angles not from just one angle.

Interact. This is your job, it could take some time after contributing and connecting to get the best result, but the best result will come. Even if you don’t see it the best, it’s the best. It’s something you’ve gained but maybe you don’t recognize it easily, but the people around you can understand it easily.

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CCI taught me 25 percent in my field of my study, and the rest of the 100 percent  they taught me ( HOW?). How to learn, how to get, how to share, how to find your path, how to give, how to connect, how to lead, how to share, how to see the things in the real way, how to be smarter and of course how to live.

Post written by Abdelkhalek Mohamed, CCI Participant at NOVA 2015-2016, Egypt

My CCI Experience

It has always been a lifelong dream to travel the world and experience cultures different from mine. Well that dream became a reality when the State Department decided to present me with the opportunity of a lifetime. I came to the United State of America with unfulfilled desires and personal aspirations.  For once I was going to live the dream and be better than I was in my country. The ten months I have stayed has been the best months ever. I’m going to categorise my best moments.

Studying in NOVA

I had the opportunity to be taught by amazing professors and friendly course mates. It was a bittersweet experience for me. The professors made sure we img-20160720-wa0025had presentations all the time. You can imagine how I fumbled while standing infront of my mates but after sometime I overcame my shyness and fear of crowd. I mastered the art of speaking to a large number of people and actually getting them to understand me. I can proudly say my fear of crowd is a thing of the past now. Get me an audience and a podium and I will make them believers of my confidence.

Pathways to Success Program

I got the opportunity to meet all the CCI participants  and made new friends as well.  What made  this program much memorable was when I located all my friends from GHANA . We hugged amidst laughter and hugs . Telling each other stories from our respective states and teasing one another.  Our tour of the white house ,empire state , statue of liberty amongst others will forever be imprinted on my mind. If I were to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change any aspect of it.

Special friendships I made

A friend is someone who sees the white speck in you even when the whole world sees only black. It takes some people years to build friendship while others find finds withing a twinkle of an eye. I must say I made friends with all my img-20160722-wa0008CCI participants in virginia , my house mates and  the one friendship that stands out the most is the one I made with Nabila Akter from Bangladesh.  I don’t no how exactly we became friends but she made my days very interesting and infected me with her love for adventure. Not a day goes by without me calling on her to accompany me to this place and that place. She  is just amazing. Words cannot describe how content I am to be her friend. Like I said it takes some people years to build friendships but mine took just ten months .

Experience that stands out

I enjoyed every moment I spent in the US but I will say the best one was when my coordinators Kelly and Jaclyn organised a trip to Virginia Beach. I explored so many things from the adventure park to the Busch gardens. I got to know my weaknesses and strengths . And for the first time I swam in the sea and the pool. Even though it was the last adventure we took as a group,it was worth it .img-20160720-wa0002

Post written by Sandra Appiah, CCI participant at NOVA, 2015-17, Ghana