Category Archives: Current Student

NOVA Print Shop

When I heard that I was selected for the Community College Initiative Program and that I was going in USA, I knew that I earned a big opportunity to improve myself, to discover new things and to have a good and solid practical knowledge.

I started preparing my mind in my home country. I was trying to picture how life would be like to live, study, and work (internship) in an American community. Of course I knew everything would be different from everything I experienced before. Yet I could not imagine accurately. I am saying so because my imagination was not close to what I am currently living here.

I would write for years without finishing telling about my experience in USA. So I will just focus for now on my first semester in an American school.

Studying at Northern Virginia Community College is awesome and I enjoy a lot. However even if NOVA taught me a lot I think it is because of the American school system in general, not just NOVA. The American school system is wonderful and that foster the educational system.

I started School at NOVA in August 2017. All my classes were very good and I had awesome teachers but this is not my concern for now. The experience that amazed me started with my public relations classes, with Dr. Melvin Murphy, two weeks after the start of the fall semester. This class was not really different from the scenario of other classes but had something special. The class was highly interactive and we were working on a real project. Yes ! We had a real client and we had to do a professional work that would be implemented by the NOVA Print Service (our client).  By the end of the semester we would have present a complete public relations plan aiming at improving the visibility of the NOVA print services.

Designing a real and complete PR plan for the Print service was an awesome project to work on, however it implied a lot of work. I have to confess that some of us doubted about the feasibility of that PR plan (me included 🙂 ). It was the first time a real project for a real client was assigned to a class starting a topic, like us beginning public relations. We knew it wouldn’t be easy but we kept faith and start working hard. With the assistance of Dr. Murphy, we made three groups named as follow: Strategy, Media and implementation. Then we were working with a wonderful graphic designer (Miranda Galas), from another class, and a good photographer (Troy Mauricio) in the implementation team (My team).

We thus broke down the job and start working hard. We were doing both at the same time, I mean normal classes and our special project afterward. That class was challenging because we had to learn the theories fast during class sessions so that we could have enough time to break down into groups and work on the project. Like we were implementing in groups what we were learning during class sessions it was complementary and easy to assimilate for us.

We shared tasks in groups and little by little we built our artwork. This experience also changed my view about group works. It was well coordinated and team members were responsible. We respected the deadlines and requirements. Professor Murphy was checking on us really often. He wanted to make sure we weren’t too stressed out and that we are doing the right job.

At the end of the semester we retuned the final job to the print services, after Dr. Murphy approves. We start getting ready for the presentation in front of the client and some staff members. The final PR plan has been printed, for all the attendees, by the print services. We were stressing out the day of the final presentation but we presented well and they appreciated a lot. We finally made it successful. Yeah ! We did it, we had the recognition of the school and the CCI Program.

Today, after having this amazing opportunity to work on such a project, I feel like I acquired a ready to use theoretical and practical knowledge. This knowledge is one of the reason that gave me an Internship at George Mason University. A job in which I have the opportunity to keep doing what I like and to practice more and more in a professional environment with professionals. I am ready to impact, to learn and to teach as well.

The CCI program is not a trip or a vacation it is a new life ! I can’t be more grateful.

Post written by Liaden Hermann Ake, CCI Participant at NOVA-Annandale from Côte d’Ivoire.

Credit Photo: Troy Mauricio

Graphic Designs : Miranda Gallas

Let’s erase the borders and embrace peace….

Even though I grew up in a moderate middle-class household, from early childhood, I was taught by my school and society to hate India. And although the country had become a symbol of hate, we never failed to enjoy their Bollywood movies and music .Throughout my life I had been told that Indians are our enemies, they don’t like Pakistani and there is a huge difference between us, we can never be united and much more – until at some point I found myself being brainwashed and started to consider India as the biggest enemy of the fortress of Islam.  That’s how I was grown up listening to bad comments and stereotypes about Indians, Ah!

But then, fortunately I came to United States and after having interaction with them, I realized I have been indoctrinated with lies and my whole world view changed upside down.

Throwing back to July 15, 2018 (04:30pm), the day when my journey towards United states started-I was wandering around anxiously and in hurry  at the London airport to see where I can get my luggage and to whom I should ask for help in that big crowd full of strange faces. In that situation, I heard a soft voice coming from behind and addressing, “Excuse me, ap Pakistan sy hen? Which means, “Excuse me, Are you from Pakistan? I, without any hesitation turned around and saw a girl wearing a big, sweet smile and offering her hand in order to greet me. I nodded my head and extended the conversation by greeting her back. I found myself satisfied by talking to her and after having some “gossips”, I came to know that she is from India and the most important she turned out to be CCI participant. That was the biggest jerk for me to haven Indian sitting beside me. I talked to myself-she is from India but still we are sitting together and having gossips like we have known each other from years. That was the first good impression about Indians for me.

As the days went on, I started to spend more time with my Indian friends. It seemed like we are from the same country, sharing the same language, same culture, same food, and same clothes—then, where is the difference? After some days, I realized that we have many things in common to love instead of hating and that hatred between both countries has political motives and has nothing to do with common people, like me and my Indian friends.

CCI Participants from Pakistan and India at the Mid-Year Retreat in Arizona

 

As CCI participants, we helped in celebrating each other’s Independence Day and tried to make it worth. My all Indian friends along with my other CCI friends came to our celebration of Pakistan’s independence and transformed it into a room full of cheers and joys. I still remember when one of my Indian friends came to me while everyone was busy in celebration, and said, “I wish if we could make it one nation again and stay together forever”. That was the moment that made me so emotional and I simply hugged her and replied her,” Let’s take initiative to make it possible”.

Maria Eiman (Pakistan) and Kaveri Aavula (India) volunteering together.

Our friendship strengthened with time, and we frequently and openly discussed how we were raised in our specific cultures to hate the other on the basis of religious or political backgrounds. It was not until a personal connection was established that we found that there were more similarities between us than there were differences. We shared our joys together and offered shoulders when in pain or sorrow, we cooked together – no shocks –  you can expect luddoos to be as round, gulab jamuns as dripping and jalebis as complicated as in Pakistan. Moreover, we laughed together and sometimes went crazy while planning things together on how can we diminish these stereotypes that is falling us apart.

To me, the fact that Pakistanis and Indians are so close to each other in the United States, United Kingdom, and elsewhere in the world suggests that it is largely petty politics and propaganda that hold them back in South Asia. There is so much that the two groups can accomplish by communicating with and learning from each other, as similar challenges exist in both societies.

I am so thankful to the CCI program for this impactful experience that supported and helped us to come closer while breaking all those stereotypes created by conflict-promoting politics in both states and letting us to know the actual reality. And I believe, WE, little drops of water can make the mighty oceans.

CCI Participants at Northern Virginia Community College sharing their culture with one another

 

Post written by Maria Eiman, CCI participant at NOVA-Alexandria from Pakistan

 

 

THE EXPERIENCE I HAD DURING THE STUDENT LEADERSHIP DIVERSITY CONFERENCE

Student Life at NOVA is building a community of leaders and inspiring the growth of the whole student by facilitating co-curricular programs that support civic engagement, leadership development, diversity, education, community involvement, and personal empowerment as retention effort.

The conference came on at Loudoun Campus which presentation were selected based on the following student learning outcomes. During the conference, I had opportunity to attend the following presentation: Here is my story, What is yours by Alicia Edwards, Adjunct Faculty, Annandale Campus. Secondly, Mindset & Leadership; Getting out of the Box by Rachelle Thompson, Financial Stability Program Coordinator, NOVA. Again, Leaders Are Overrated; Leadership Misunderstood by Lucy Holsonbake, Faculty Liberal Arts and lastly, I attended Agree to Disagree: How to Move Forward by Vanessa Diaz, Director of Academic Success & Student Engagement.

The experience I had in the conference are numerous but some of them are; gained insight into leadership, diversity, and inclusion efforts by identify leadership characteristics to inform how to lead self and others, to compile best practices to use in creating inclusive communities and Understand the multiple dimensions of diversity and how our background and related experiences inform our role within the NOVA community.

Thanks to our coordinators Kelly and Kate for making us participated in this wonderful event. I am so grateful.

 

 

Post written by Patrick Asampana, CCI participant at NOVA-Annandale from Ghana.

LIFE CHANGING OPPORTUNITY (CCI Program)

Pathways to Success Cultural Night
  1. Volunteer/ Internship
  2. PSP
  3. Host
  4. Improvement/ Achievement.
  5. Action plan

 

 

I have not imagined this few months can change me and my life!

Visiting US was one of dream, then one day I received a call from US Embassy which brought me here and gave me wings to change the world, my eyes were full of tears, that is the CCI Program.

I have spent more than six months in US, and now I am not that old one, I had so challenging situations to come here but these memories and achievements are worth than those situations.

Volunteering

Coming to volunteering, in past I have never volunteered but when I volunteered here it always gives me positive vibes, helping the needy is something which money cannot buy, it brings the humanity, mercy and positivity in individuals.

Internship, working with children is always makes me happy, because I believe todays good children will be tomorrow’s better citizens! I have learnt many strategic ways in teaching and child care. Also learned the ways to work on children positive behavior. This will really help me in my future.

Internship

Oh my god! Coming to the PSP (mid-year retreat) this was the best experience of mine; the journey was unforgotten. In just one week I have learnt a lot and enjoyed too. The workshops taught me leadership skills and today I have a sophisticated personality because of those workshops. I have never traveled back home but I can say travelling teaches us a lot.

Pathways to Success
Pathways to Success Workshop

The CCI Program has given me a best social host ever, she is so kind and lovely, I spent my most of the weekends with her it feels like I am home. We go for lunch, volunteering, traditional events, museums and botanical gardens (luckily me and my host love gardening and plants). we even cook together. It is so worthy and memorable I cannot even forget these moments.

Host Family

I was nothing back home but now I am so Improved, I was so afraid to speak in public, but now have the ability and speak the CCI Program taught me how to be confident, and I have so many achievements which impacted on my life, I learnt to be responsible,

Pajama Party

punctual, honest, hardworking. I even got a certificate for best improved person, I feel so happy I have learnt so much in this few months. One of the biggest achievement is my parents agreed for my higher education even though our community does not allow but I am the one who is studying higher education. I have taken a step towards my community to change it.

I came to this program with a dream (to start a school), but now I have two action plans one is teaching women about safety, ethical values, diversity, English, humanity classes. My first action to make change in the community. And the second is to start a school for special children, underprivileged, single parent children, children that are LGBTQ. Because every CSI class gave me a idea for better development and I am going to implement these ideas and what I have learned here.

A girl whose world was just her house now she is able work for the community to change the world! The CCI Program is giving a reason for living in this world, this program gave me so power and made me strong to face the obstacles in future, my inspiration is mother Teresa and now I can take a step to become a next mother Teresa by public service and for better change!   THANK YOU CCI Program!

Grand Canyon National Park

 

Post written by Anjum Begum, CCI participant at NOVA-Alexandria from India.

Yes, I am More Optimistic Now….

“Now close your eyes and take a deep breath! Write about your kind of world that you want to live”. By giving a final task for all of us, he finished his presentation and put down the power point which had been lighting the entire room for the past 2 hours. It was a fine Friday! For CCI participants it’s CSI Friday.  Every week we have CSI class. This is the day the 30 CCI Program participants sit and talk together, study together and have fun together. That’s how we say good bye to our exhausting busy weeks and make a grand beginning to our weekends. This CSI class was about how to find our real passion and put it into innovative ideas. The smart and enthusiastic instructor from the Ashoka Foundation took us on a journey through his amazing style of presentation. Then it was our turn to look deep inside our heart and ask ourselves what we were really passionate about? What kind of world we wanted to create and live in? I looked around. Everyone was busy with making their own imaginary world. A world which they found peaceful and beautiful, a world where they could be successful and happy. The thought of originating thirty new and innovative ideas about a better world made me so excited. I found it amazing.

For five minutes I spent nothing but watching others. I tried to focus on my paper and write something. The white blankness really annoyed me. I wanted to fill it with multiple colors of thoughts, but I couldn’t. That was frustrating. There are a lot of things that I care about, things that I wanted to change. Where should I start and where should I end? I hate it when somebody takes advantage of others by exploiting their incapability. I hate it when some people are privileged only because they are in a particular religion, cast, ethnicity or gender. I hate it when opportunities are not equally distributed. I hate when people don’t care about others. I just realized my kind of world was very far away from my reality. Finally, I wrote “I want to live in a world where nobody is privileged over others and everybody has the equal freedom and choices to live a life that they love. I read it again and again. I found a cold stream started to flow from the bottom of my heart. It didn’t make me happy but more disappointed. I knew it was too flowery and fantastical for others. But it was from my real passion even though I was not confident about it.

‘Ok, now you guys have to walk around, find one of your CCI friends and share your thoughts with each other”. We got the second task from the instructor. Suddenly the whole class transformed into a gentle motion. We started to walk by carrying worlds full of expectations and found a partner to share. Many small groups of two people formed around me. I felt the atmosphere getting filled with some positive vibes. Laughs, arguments, suggestions and hugs were all over the room.  I found my partner. We accidentally bumped into each other. She pulled out her ripped note book page and held it closely for me to see. I saw a picture of glob with small human sketches and a big smile. I let her speak first because I was embarrassed by my own assumption that my thoughts could be too unrealistic, and she might not get the point. She started to speak. “I always dream of a world where everybody has an opportunity to make their dreams come true. You know, I want to live in a world where each person really matters. She stopped… Is that too much to wish?” she asked. “Never,” I replied. I was continuously smiling while listening to her. I saw the same cold stream developed in me flowing through her heart and wetting her eyes. We hugged each other. I realized that dreaming big is not a fault. Being without any dream is a fault. All great leaders had visions and beautiful dreams. All of them seemed impossible until they came true.  CCI taught me that you are never alone in pursuing a passion to bring changes in this world. I experienced it several times throughout my journey as a CCI participant. I realized it when we started to use a lot of “we” instead of ‘I’ in our action plans and even single conversations. I realized it when we shared sorrows and happiness regardless of our religion, gender, or nationality. I believed in it when my fellow CCI students and I started to care more about the pleasure from giving back to the society not just volunteering hours, and when we found the feeling of home with our host families. CCI brought group of people into my life to made me realize that my vision for a better world is not far away.  Yes, I am more optimistic now, I started to bring changes in my life. I hope I can extend those positiveness to others life as well.

 

CCI NOVA 2017-2018

 

Post written by Diana Nadira Puthusseri, CCI participant at NOVA-Annandale from India.

GOODBYE DHAKA

Dhaka, capital city of Bangladesh, a crowded city where I grown up.  After performing my prayer, I was checking my email. I saw my ticket from Dhaka to Virginia has arrived.  My pleasure knowns no bound that finally I was moving into another city alone. Time to become independent had arrived.  The place where I take birth, where I grew up, where I lived now there’s a chance to experience my dream city Virginia, America. Really my dream came to life, studying in America, foremost country in the world. By the grace of God, I got this opportunity. The opportunity of exploration different culture is a different aspect of life. Also, I have to broaden my mind. The local marketplace of food, childhood school, the mosque and melodious Azan, gettogether in Ramadan I am going to leave it all.  The high tune of my mom, the sound of roadside vehicle, and rainy season of my country haunts me over and over again. The tall 18th building, my apartment, and some backbiter neighbor became monotonous in my life. The day before my flight, at 4:00 pm, after getting the ticket, my heart started beating fast, I started sweating, my mouth started becoming dry and my mind was not working. What happened to me? Yes, I was frightened.  I was feeling loneliness so I called my mom and said “Please, come and seat beside me.” Yes, I remember my sister’s face when I left the house for airport, she didn’t cry but she covered a lot of pain and also happiness. My bed, my school, my shopping mall everything is making me sad. Almost 30 hours of journey, will I be able to make it. Yes, I did make it happen when I was shivering at Dulles airport in Virginia. Yes, the road, the shops, the traffic, the people, the weather everything has changed. I was scared and I wanted to go back. Suddenly, a sound from my heart came to mind and I heard – ‘Yes, Ayesha, You can do it. You are not moving into new city, you are moving into new life to learn and discover the new aspects of life’.

Post written by Ayesha Alam, 2017-2018 participant at NOVA-Annandale from Bangladesh

The city that never sleeps

New York City, a city that never sleeps, one of the major tourist spot in the world. It is also one of the most fundamental cultural center in United States of America. It’s natural beauty and night life charms everyone.  It’s iconic sites such as Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, sprawling Central Park, Madame Tussauds adds an incredible scenario which makes eyes blink with sparkling star. Moreover, Rockefeller Center, Time Square, Coney Island, Grand Central Terminal and World Trade Center drives everyone insane. By the grace of God, I have got an opportunity to visit that phenomenal states “ New York” and it has added a golden page in my life.

Madame Tussauds is a well-known wax museum. Everyone knows about cinematic experience from the world that it offers. When I enter it takes me to the Hollywood world. There any one can your dream stars from Hollywood, Royal Family from United Kingdom, and the 1st president George Washington, Former president Abraham Lincoln and current president Donald Trump United States of America. You also don’t need to travel the world to meet Pope & Dalai Lama too.

The world’s biggest and famous Office Building, Empire State Building, on 86th and 102th floor offers panoramic views of New York City. When I climbed on the top of that building which is  102 floor I  feel like you are walking on the cloud. The observation of illuminating night image from highest vantage point from Empire State Building of New York can take anyone’s breathe away.

The Statue of liberty is a national monument and an universal symbol of freedom, immigration and democracy to the millions. It’s everyone’s dream to see this beautiful lady even once in lifetime.  The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest bridge in United States of America. I feel like It is also an resemble a moon in the sky.

Time Square, a is well – organized to take me in a tour in every World’s famous fashion house and Junk food like from H&M to V&S, J.C Penny to American Eagle, Five guys to Burger king and so on. People can also test different food from different country in restaurants too and find the natural spirit of downtown.

New York, full of diversity, heart of America, known for night life is an enormous city for pleasure, hangout, fun and family vacation. It must make your every single moment memorable and golden age in your entire life. I am really blessed that I have an opportunity to visit the city that never sleeps before my death.

Post written by Ayesha Alam, 2017-2018 participant at NOVA-Annandale from Bangladesh

CCI Cohort Visit to the National Museum of the American Indian

Shuvajit Saha (India) and Vuyani Maduna (South Africa) outside of the National Museum of the American Indian

Self-determination of nations is very vital, more and more of previously colonized and oppressed people of the world are trying to recapture what they lost as a result of being invaded and subjected to pain and suffering. The natives of America find themselves still fighting for self-determination and self-government in the United States of America. The NOVA CCI cohort visited the National museum of American Indians to learn about their history, Culture, Suffering and oppression. When the colonizers arrived in the Americas they found native people living in the land – the colonizers wanted to expand the kingdom of their native lands and they were determined to conquer the new world by all means necessary, others were driven by creed and the love of money which turned them into ruthless and heartless people.

The invasion of America by foreign forces destroyed the native people, there were wars and conflicts that resulted in scores of deaths on both sides. They two sides realized there won’t be no solution to their fight they decided to enter into agreements, these agreements would ensure that the invaders would live in America but they should never try to conquer the lands of the Natives. These agreements were called treaties, but as more invaders came to America, land was needed for the people – these new pressing development led to the invaders breaking the treaties and those actions led to more wars between the Natives and the invaders.

Shuvajit Saha (India) and Muhammad Arham (Indonesia) at the National Museum of the American Indian

The invaders were determined to build a new nation in a land they just invaded and conquered. The thirteen States of America were formed with George Washington becoming the first president of the United States of America, the concept of the United States spelled destruction for Native Americans – the more the new country expanded the more the treaties were broken and the more the natives lost their land. The worst president for the Natives was Andrew Jackson who initiated the forced removals of

 the natives to make way for European settlement, and these forced removals are notoriously known as “the trail of tears”

Even in the present USA Native Americans still face oppression and their lands which are called reservations keep on be undermined and disregarded by fellow Americans and the government.

Post written by Shuvajit Saha, CCI participant at NOVA-Alexandria from India

Cycles of Life

It is incredible how this experience has made me a whole new person. There is no way to put into words what I am feeling now. Three months ago, I realized that I was lost in myself. I felt that I did not know who I was. I felt that a part of me was dying, but that little part was just dying to be born again. I cannot be more grateful for this challenging moment. It has not only made me grow a lot as a human being but also made me understand how important it is to challenge myself to overcome every stage of my life.

When I came here, I knew I wanted to challenge myself, but I did not imagine how hard it was going to be. Although I have always been passionate about my dreams, there was a time when I just did not know how valuable they are. Since I lost my confidence, I did not know how to express my ideas. So, I felt that I did not belong here because I was not good enough for this program. It was really frustrating to feel that I was not able to do what I wanted to do. As a consequence of these issues and other personal problems, I became depressed. Nevertheless, having one of my worst moments I realized how important is not only to appreciate difficult times but also to die in each stage of your life. On first thought, it does not make sense, but let me explain to you the big meaning that it has for me. I strongly believe that life is made of cycles. Each cycle of our life is a stage that we should live to learn from it; however, we should also die to be born again. We will have learned a lot, but we will also need to keep going without look back.  

 

In other words, that challenging moment not only made me born again but also changed the perspective of my life. I learned that my dreams are as valuable as I want them to be. I learned that I am important for my community and that I may cause a significant change if share all the things that I have learned until today. Now I know that nothing is impossible and that I am the only one who can strongly believe in her dreams to make them come true. Being involved in CCI program change my life. This is a stage of learning for my life and I really appreciate it. All the CCI cohort has taught me to be confident about my dreams and that I am not alone when it comes to making a positive change in the world.

Post written by Natalia Martínez Conde, CCI participant at NOVA-Alexandria from Colombia