Category Archives: CCI

My CCI Experience

Having been in the USA for six months now, I feel a lot has changed already. I feel I’ve changed to a better person. My visit to the USA has been an amazing experience. Ever since my first day here, people seemed to be very nice, kind and helpful. I’m glad I’m in a place that is open to diversity, truly open.

When I got the acceptance email and later the envelope I was beyond happy, not only will I study in the USA but I would also be doing activities to share my culture and explore the American culture. I was lucky enough to be placed at Northern Virginia Community College and also live in Virginia because the slogan is very true, Virginia IS for lovers!

I and my CCI colleagues have been receiving support from everyone (especially emotional support) from day one and later on, we learned how to support each other. Not to mention my social hosts who have been such a blessing from the day I met them.

Sarah, with her social hosts Patricia and Richard, on Thanksgiving Day.

What is very unique about the CCI program is that it not only focuses on the academic experience but also four other areas which are: volunteerism, internship, leadership & action planning, and cultural exchange.

Through academics, I was able to experience the American classroom and obtain great knowledge in the field I work in. I was honored to get to know some of my professors who had a tremendous experience and were also very supportive.

The second pillar of the program is volunteering. I enjoyed this part because I was able to meet people and interact with them and at the same time benefit the community.

The third one is the internship. This one is very important because I get to apply what I learned in my past years as a teacher and what I learned in the classes I am attending and gain hands-on professional experience at different preschools and schools through an internship.
The internship part is very important because beside the gained experience it will help me when I am back home to become a better teacher and get a better job and it will also help me a lot in starting my own project related to education.

Sarah volunteering at Family Science Night at Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia.

The fourth pillar focuses on leadership and action planning. I’ve been working as a teacher back home and I also volunteered occasionally but never had something solid, something of my own.
Before the CCI program, I never felt I could make a real change in my community but now I feel like I gained very important and useful skills as well as resources that would really help me when I go back home to establish a unique non-profit organization.
Throughout the program we had classes that focus on many skills especially practical leadership skills and we also worked on creating an “Action Plan” for the project that each of us will implement upon returning home.
We also attended a mid-year retreat called “Pathways to Success Program” in January which was full of very useful workshops, networking activities and presentations. In the mid-year program I also got to meet other CCI participants from different countries and even though we did have the same major, we were still able to exchange very useful ideas regarding our projects.

Sarah with Helen (Indonesia), Aaron (India), and Schawany (Brazil), 3 NOVA Annandale Participants, at the International Young Leaders Assembly at the World Bank in Washington, D.C.
Sarah with her Early Childhood Education classmates during a culture-sharing class period.


The fifth pillar (my favorite) is cultural exchange. I got to learn about the American culture through almost everyone I met and I got to share my own culture with them through presentations, food and simply conversations. Sometimes I’d talk to someone in the bus or in the street and then we end up talking about culture!
We also had several field trips which helped us further understand American history.
And of course the most fun exposure to other cultures is those of my CCI colleagues, not only the ones who go to NOVA but also the ones in the other states through the “Pathways to Success Program” where we all met.
Since day one in the USA, I was determined to focus on all the areas of the program in order to succeed and fulfill the program requirements and I was honored to receive the academic achievement award in the mid-year program and I hope I can achieve more this semester.

The CCI is not only the pillars though, it’s the whole mesmerizing experience and the opportunity to leave a mark.

Post written by Sarah Awadallah from Egypt, a 2018-19 NOVA Alexandria CCI Participant

Where lies the resources?

When my exchange program started I found myself blinded by the opportunity given to me. There are people to register me to classes, to tell the way to college, to transport me through the city. But the honeymoon did not last long and I learned my lesson. If I want to get the most of the experience, I should go out and take it by storm.

The best part of an exchange is seeing new places and culture, and there are great opportunities to do this for free. As a college student you have the chance to find sponsorship for conferences, trips, food, accommodation and discounts. Look for it in your college, and surf the web for conferences in your field. Also be ready to show why you deserve sponsorship.

Surf the web with the right guidelines. There are so many resources eclipsed by the tons of useless information that reside in the web. Search for free online teaching platforms, software discounts for students, use of your .edu email, register yourself in education related websites. Those tools are powerful and free so use them to your benefit.

Meeting people is a good way to find resources that will open many doors. To address this matter I started to attend meetings called Meet-Ups, defined by its creators as a tool that “brings people together to do, explore, teach and learn the things that help them come alive.”. There I met people in my field of study (Information Technology), learned a lot and acquired tools that I will use to improve myself.

Do not think that exchange is only about high grades, think outside the box and live adventures with the new people in your life, They are the best resource you can get. A great exchange experience is not achieved by sticking to what is given to you, furthermore is by finding the resources to boost your journey.

Bellow there are some of the resource I’ve acquired in my field of IT:

  1. https://alison.com
  2. https://www.freecodecamp.com/
  3. https://www.codecademy.com/
  4. https://app.pluralsight.com/library/
  5. https://www.khanacademy.org/
  6. https://mva.microsoft.com/
  7. https://www.ctrlpaint.com/
  8. https://unity3d.com/learn/tutorials
  9. https://cubebrush.co/marketplace?resource=tutorials&q=FREE
  10. https://imagine.microsoft.com/en-us
  11. https://mlh.io/
  12. https://www.meetup.com/
  13. http://www.studentrate.com/

Post written by Leoncio Ferreira da Silva Neto, CCI Participant at NOVA 2016-2017, Brazil

Welcome to the CCI NOVA Blog!

Welcome to the CCI NOVA Blog! We are starting this blog to share the experiences of the Community College Initiative Program participants at Northern Virginia Community College Alexandria and Annandale campuses. This year we have 32 students from twelve different countries–Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa, Turkey, and Yemen.

We expect a lot from these young people. In addition to taking a rigorous academic course load at NOVA, they have to complete 125 hours of volunteer work and an additional 75 hours of experiential learning in their field of study. They also work on an action plan, which is a plan or special project that they can implement when they return home. We ask them to take what they learn here and use it to benefit their local communities. We expect them to make a difference in their families, their communities, in their countries, and in the world.

Each week we will feature posts from our current students. We will also look to our alumni to share their experiences as well–what they did during their year in the United States and what they have been doing since they returned home. We want to share their journey with you, from their perspectives and from their voices.

We hope you will follow these amazing young people as they navigate their way through a new culture, new experiences, and the challenges and accomplishments that come along with being a CCI participant.

Jaclyn & Kelly

Program Coordinators, CCI NOVA

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Exchange Participants Build Workforce and Leadership Skills at U.S. Community Colleges

32 Exchange participants arrived in July at the Northern Virginia Community College Alexandria and Annandale campuses, two of 14 campuses across 11 states, to begin the 2016-2017 Community College Initiative (CCI) Program.  The CCI Program is a program of the U.S. State Department that provides participants with quality educational study at U.S. community colleges and is designed to build technical skills, enhance leadership capabilities, and strengthen English language proficiency.

NOVA 2016-2017 Group Picture
CCI-NOVA Alexandria

Participants pursue educational study focused on one-year certificate programs in workforce development fields.  The CCI program also provides opportunities for professional internships, service learning, and community engagement activities.  After completing the program, participants return home with a deeper understanding of U.S. culture and new skills to help them contribute to the economic growth and development of their countries.

NOVA-AN Group Picture
CCI-NOVA Annandale

CCI participants also contribute to their U.S. host communities by helping U.S. community colleges to internationalize their campuses.  According to 2015 Open Doors Report, less than 2% of U.S. community college students will gain 21st-century international experience and workforce skills through study abroad.  CCI exchange participants engage community college students with international cultures and diverse perspectives in their U.S. classrooms and on their home campuses.  CCI participants will study in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Since 2007, the CCI Program has hosted more than 2,600 participants from 20 countries.  This year, CCI participants are from Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa, Turkey, and Yemen.  The CCI Program recruits participants from underserved and unrepresented communities, particularly women.

For further information, please contact the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at eca-press@state.gov.”