Category Archives: Reentry

It sucks and it’s fine to feel that!

IT SUCKS AND ITS FINE TO FEEL THAT

By Juan Tangarife Usuga

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The novel coronavirus had an immediate negative impact in our experiences as CCI students; for instance, we are probably going to be the only cohort that will not be enjoying the end of the year trip or have a graduation ceremony to acknowledge our hard work and sacrifices we have made during the almost ten months we have been in the United States. I know what you think: we should be enjoying the beautiful weather that Virginia is offering, we should be taking our traditional spring pictures with the cherry blossoms on the background to choose the most “Instagrammeable” one and make wonderful memories out of it; but unfortunately, that is not going to be the case at this time. We all had goals, dreams, or travels that we wanted to achieve; besides, we were thinking about our graduation, the dresses we were going to wear, and the people we were going to invite to share this joyful moment with, but that’s something we cannot control nor change.

There is not an official guideline on what you can or cannot do during this time of uncertainty; some people find inspiration by reading that book they always wanted to finish, others like to take an online course to develop and improve their knowledge, some of them are even practicing their cooking skills before returning home; whatever you do, just make sure that new activity makes you happy, and what other people think about what you are doing with your time should not be important. If you don’t want to read a book but want to do Tik Tok videos instead, that’s fine! You don’t want to read a book but rather watch that TV show you have been told to watch? Absolutely and perfectly fine! Don’t succumb to the pressure of social media and what other people think is right; for example, I have been organizing all of my summer and fall pictures, and I am reliving those wonderful memories I experienced in those times.

You should allow yourself to feel sad, disappointed, depressive, anxious, and angry; let those feelings out of your mind and internalize better thoughts. Try to reach another CCI participant, and avoid news that only creates paranoia; seriously, what is more depressing than reading numbers and data of dead people? I am not here to tell you to do a routine and give you positive quotes to make you feel better, but I am telling you that even in situations like this you can work on new goals and activities that bring you peace. YOU SHOULD WORK ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL!

An Open Letter to All CCI Alumni

Hey everyone, this is Marlin Estevez, a CCI Alumni from the Dominican Republic. I was part of the 2018-2019 generation of the CCI Program. Today, I am writing an open letter to every CCI Alumni across the world, because I feel there are some issues that needs to be addressed.

Although, I’ve been wanting to write this letter since the first week back in my country, I wanted to make sure I gave myself enough time to experience the whole cultural shock, so that I can be more objective and write something that bring value to your life and this new path you are taking now that you are back in your country of origin.

Here’s what this is about:   CCI you are a seed, you will blossom not matter the place or the circumstances.

It has come to my attention that some of my CCI friends and myself included have experience what it’s like to feel that you don’t belong anywhere once you return to your country. You get to miss your friends like never before, even the ones you didn’t spend much time with, but somehow everyone became part of your family.

CCI Cohorts and Lieutenant John Weinstein from 2018-2019 at the beginning of their year.

You also have a hard time defining thing like Happiness and home. On top of that, you struggle with readjusting to how thing work in your country, the things that aren’t that well accepted in your society, the lack of tolerance or respect towards everyone’s right to choose how they live their life, make decisions and what they stand for.

Sometimes (and I am going to be realistic here) you even wonder if you should settle and act like everyone else (been there done that), so that you don’t feel pressured because you think, and perceive life different than everyone else.

CCI Participants with Sarah Yirenkyi and Kelly Forbes during Spring Break

Here’s my point, that happens to you, because YOU ARE DIFFERENT. You experienced almost a year in a society that taught you to be independent, bold, to set clear goals and make sacrifices to achieve them. You proved yourself what you are capable of. You let go of fears, insecurities, a fixed mindset, assumptions and everything that was keeping you down.

I am not saying being back is going to be easy, I am just reminding you how capable you are of achieving anything you set your mind to. Don’t settle, don’t give up and don’t you dare to forget how special you are. And if you do, remember you were chosen among many other people around the world to be part of a program such as the Community College Initiative Program, which means, everyone involved in taking that decision thinks there’s something SPECIAL about you, so why wouldn’t you think that way about yourself too?

Marlin back in the Dominican Republic with some of her CCI peers and her sister

Here’s some of the things you can do when you need some motivation:

  • Sit down and think of what makes you happy or whatever goal you want to achieve and build a MoodBoard (also called Vision Board) and paste it somewhere you can see it every day.
  • Break down your goals, what is that that you want? What steps can you take RIGHT NOW? Set due dates and start step by step. Think of each day as if that’s the only one that matters, but don’t forget your vision.
  • Connect with other CCI Alumni, ask for advices, email some of your professors if needed or the CCI Staff and coordinators. I assure you, they want to hear from you, and they can keep adding value to your life from distance.
  • Find a way to release stress, whether it is by doing some exercise, going to a park or Facetiming with your International Friends.
Marlin and her mom

Finally, I want to say goodbye with something Leeza Fernand told me once during my CCI year “People say they will do many things, but only a few take action”   

Be one of those that act and remember, if you need someone to talk to, you can count on your CCI Fam.

  • Marlin