Tag Archives: Alexandria

Moving Forward

‘’Pluralist societies are not accidents of history. They are products of enlightened education and continuous investment by governments and all civil societies in recognizing and celebrating the diversity of the world’s citizen.’’
-Aga Khan IV

The greatest thing can happen only when you move your one foot forward, then you can’t imagine how many good things can come across you. Yes, I took one step forward to learn, to experience and to meet some good people. I came across an opportunity that seemed very interesting to me. I read the missions and goals of the organization and I decided that I want to be a part of this organization. It is a nonprofit organization named Atlas Corps. I applied for a position as the executive intern and luckily, I got accepted for the position. I was glad and nervous at the same time. I asked my friends how am I going to do it well, they answered ‘just believe in yourself’. Believe me this simple advice helped to bring the best out of me.

My first day at Atlas Corps was great and I can’t forget that one moment I saw different faces with beautiful welcoming smile. They introduced me to everyone and by seeing their smiling faces gave me the comfort. My supervisor is the greatest person I’ve ever met, Mr. Calum Field, who welcomed and showed me around the office.

On that day, my first assignment was something I’ve never done before and it excited me that I was going to learn something new. Mr. Calum Field is a very well-planned and active Executive Assistant   and on the higher position is Mr. Scott Beale, the Executive Director, a great man with great ideas. I found him very friendly and helpful. I came across many good things I can learn from them such as; how international organizations works, how they put together the work and idea of a diverse group of leaders. They all are leaders from different countries and I found myself as part of the team. My contribution was little but valuable for them as well as for me. What they do is they bring young leaders from all around the world to the United States of America to do volunteer work for one year. Atlas Corps is an international network of leaders of nonprofit organizations and they all promote innovation, cooperation, and solutions to address critical social challenges by building young leaders, and supporting innovation through an overseas fellowship of skilled professionals.

 

 

 

 

This internship taught me many things and increased my network as well. I am glad that there is an organization like Atlas Corps that focuses on developing professional youth and promoting innovations among skillful young leaders. Atlas Corps gives opportunity to the youths and focuses on their contribution to the economy.

I am also grateful for CCI Program for giving me such an opportunity to learn and to improve my leadership skills, networking skills and to learn from some great individuals.

Post written by Meher Sultana, CCI participant at NOVA 2016-2017, Pakistan

Touch Your Society

Coming from a country like South Africa that has a history of white supremacy and black oppression, I always knew that racial differences exist and are becoming problematic yet again in other countries including the United States of America. I had heard of people saying there are way too many racial issues in this country, I am fortunate so far to have never came across any racial prejudice but this has impacted my stay in this country in other ways. I am one person who loves having the television playing in the background when I study and often I’d be drawn by a racial incident involving a white cop and a black child, or some comment made to the Muslims / Mexican people. I can always feel the hair on my back stand up every time I see a police car; I am terrified to even help people in the street because the popular belief is that black people aren’t capable of any good deed. When I walk around campus, seeing Muslim students my heart aches with pain because I can almost smell their fear due to the current political climate that is building up in the country.

Hearing about how innocent people are killed and mistreated because of their race, religion, sexual orientation etc really boils my blood and it gives me even more motive to encourage people to travel more often and to connect with people outside their race, religion, tribe and country. And you probably asking yourselves why I’m talking about racial issues well let me take you out of the curiosity box: our scholarship program exists for cultural exchange, academic reasons and building relationships. It is important that we as beneficiaries of this program go back to our home countries and erase all this myths and stereotypes that exist in our own families and societies about other people.

I feel that it is now our responsibility to create world peace, honestly we cannot change the globe at once but if each and everyone one of us touches their society eventually the entire globe will see the light. Sometimes people are not even aware of their discriminating comments, not because they are ignorant but simply because they are not informed and were never exposed to a different group of people. We have been afforded the opportunity to learn about 13 different countries, their cultures, the traditions and their belief about other people-what now ? Now you go back home and be an ambassador for a world free of discrimination & the elimination of any supremacy.

The world is big enough for everyone to live in harmony and peace, without fear of being mistreated or killed for being different.

Post written by Ramaabele Millicent Mabotha, CCI participant at NOVA 2016-2017, South Africa

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

What the CCI Program means to Me!

The Community College Initiative Program (CCI) is an awesome and unique educational program, and I am so honored to be part of this program. It has given me several experiences in academic achievement, language skill, and mutual culture understanding.

CCIP gives me an opportunity to study 2 semesters in the Information technology (IT) program in Northern Virginia Community College. This field of study is totally different to my educational background and experiences as a medical and public health service officer. I am a coding expert in classification of disease, but not in IT. I sometimes smile when I imagine how crazy I am in this decision. When people ask me about my major, and I say IT, they are so excited by saying “wow”. That makes me imagine how difficult it must be to be an IT student. It is my choice and I must face it. I have set my mind to be as positive as possible because my dream is bigger than the difficulty. I keep in my mind that I have a big dream to implement IT in the public health services in the rural areas of Indonesia. I tried to figure out my problem by talking to my professors and my classmates every after class. I seek help from my CCIP friends who take IT classes; Kay and Soma, as well as a very good friend, Aqsha, who is always there for me when I ask him to teach me. They are very kind and helpful and always ask me to call or send them a message if I need their assistance.

Another great experience that I got here is improving my English skills. I realized my English has improved after 6 months here, and I still have 4 months left to learn.  It is a common situation for International students who do not speak English as their first language. In CCIP, we are from 12 different countries, all non-English speakers. We also have various English abilities, from excellent, good to poor, but we are here to learn. We support and motivate each other and never look down on one another. Diversity in language is a blessing, and it teaches us to learn other languages such as Bahasa Indonesia, France, Spanish, Portuguese, Indian, Urdu, and Turkish.

In addition, CCIP has taught me to accept other cultures, to be more open minded, to understand and respect others. Individualism and Islamophobia are among the stereotypes about Americans. Since I have been here, I have seen that Americans are very kind: they always give a hand when I need help and warmly greet me when we meet.  I learnt from the way they appreciate and encourage to learn rather than blame someone who make mistakes.  Their respect for me with my scarf and the meditation room at NOVA campus are evidence that Americans are tolerant to Muslims.  The reason why I wear a scarf and do not eat non-halal foods are common questions not only from Americans but also from CCIP friends. I answer those questions carefully by using health approach that is easy to understand. I am a culinary lover, but I am really concerned about halal foods, and my friends are so respectful about it. My friends in my apartment always tell me when they cook or eat pork in our apartment. We have never had dinner together at the same dining table when they had eaten pork. They always apologize for the inconvenience. Americans and my friends also showed me their tolerance when we had Thanksgiving dinner with international friends in a church. American families served halal turkey and food for Muslim friends. At the time, I took a vegetable that I did not realize that was vegetable with pork until an American told me about it. I finally put it back and said, “Thanks”. Last month, I volunteered in a Christmas holiday workshop at the church near my apartment. I was the only Muslim there and it was so easy to recognize me because I wore a scarf. I came there to assist children for shopping and wrapping gifts for their families. We showed the beauty tolerance.

Being in America is also the way to promote my country to the world. As a CCIP grantee from Indonesia, I strongly realize that I have the high responsibility to represent Indonesia in the way I think, talk, and act, so I try to do my best. I am always excited to tell about my beautiful country, Indonesia, to people that I meet: my instructors, my classmates, and people that I meet when I am volunteering, on the train, bus or wherever I am. I sometimes send them pictures, videos, and links about Indonesia on email. One of my most memorable moments was when I attended the Young Leaders Assembly (IYLA) conference at the World Bank, Washington DC. Some friends warmly greeted me and they were so excited when they found out that I am from Indonesia. Most people thought that I was a Malaysian. Because of my small eyes, my Pakistani friend, Naveen, even thought that I was Japanese the first day we met. My Indonesian friend, Morten, was laughing when he heard it. Morten said that Naveen probably meant I was a Javanese instead of a Japanese because there is Java in Indonesia, and people who live in the area are called Javanese. Another funny moment was when two students were talking about me when I was walking down from CT to CG building of NOVA Annandale campus. I did not realize it until they called me when I passed them. They asked me if I was from Thailand, and I said that I was from Indonesia. They finally laughed because they had bet to guess where I am from.

Lastly, CCIP gives me the opportunities to visit some historical and beautiful places in the USA. I love travelling and this is the right way to explore this super powerful country. I love to spend my weekends in Washington DC. I have also been in other states of America, such as Maryland, Chicago, Michigan, Arizona and New York. In the next three months, I am going to other states.

Those experiences are unforgettable and will be a great asset in my bright future. It brings me to be better person, particularly in the way of thinking. My dream to study, learn, and travel in America has come true.

Post written by Martina, CCI Participant at NOVA 2016-2017, Indonesia

Family and a New Life

What A Family And A New Life We Have.

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From the four corners of the world we gather knowing nothing of what we were about to encounter and yet here we are to make a different. Our journey started from different perspective, different choice, ways and means. Now here is what we are, have, and live now. This program did not give us their way or the highway policy but resilient one for us to do what is necessary for ourselves and the benefit of our motherlands.

Being engulfed by these beautiful, wealthy, hospitable, cherish able, accountable, decisive, and harmonious people in this program and their environment provides a great sense of humanity and prospect. Being living with friends and family from different matrimonial and patrimonial homes and their precious cultures, from different backgrounds, different perspectives, different prospects of stereotypes and with different instinct lifestyle, character, knowledge behavior and mind. We came with different strokes for different folks, dreams, and expectations but in all things, we do not look down on anyone’s life or culture rather working together as people with one dreams, thoughts, ideas, and expectations to make something new, powerful, beneficial and a peaceful life indifferences of who, how, what, and where we are. With our life arguing the toss we made which hinders our potentials and now having a family who knows, feels, and alters everything for our betterment, initiation, encouragement, and the thrills in-dependable of who we are and what we are. These people harness our desire, wishes, thoughts, dreams, and life into a considerable level of safety, love, esteem, and closeness to actualization in referral to Maslow’s Hierarchy. We through our desire to achieve will drove us to the actualization if we continue to hold still.

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In all that we’ve seen, planned, thought, examined, determined, engaged, and engrossed ourselves and dreams, with the new experience and the new realm created is not to make us lay down our culture, life, preferences, etc but before “all entrant must exist the space until reassessment is complete” we can change something in our life. This is meant to polish, restore, smoothens, deepens, motivate, and engage us in our dreams, experiences, and life to impart our communities, societies, country, and the world. This new life is to enlighten and lit our closed and darkened potentials into a steadfast reality and to help lights others potential. Our implementation timeline is much greater and inevitably comparable, and presentable to make a new world for us to discover, innovate, modify our legitimate potentials, abilities, and identities. This program has made us known that “Never shall we change our originality for the sake of others because no one can play our roles better than we can” therefore, our policies has been face/turned about.

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For I believe that at the end of this precious living life of our tenure in this program, when we return, in everything we will hedge our bets quickly and not keeping our options opened. I believe a new life had already started. What is your belief?

Post written by Ebenezer Offei Boadi, CCI Participant at NOVA 2016-2017, Ghana

Different Cultures are Beautiful

Different people have different deliberations, beliefs and mindsets. It seems very easy to cope with different mindsets but it actually isn’t that easy. Culture has its own meaning. It’s beautiful, pure and attractive.  I found in some ways that our culture is becoming our comfort zone since that’s how we have been living our life since we were small, that’s how we have been raised by our parents, and that’s what we have seen in our surrounding the whole time. Many of you may not agree with some of other’s particular ways of living or the way they behave because everyone loves their culture and customs and think that’s the best one. Believe me, I do as well.  Therefore, I think living outside your community can teach you more. Experiencing different cultures makes you more open-minded and then you can make the world a better place. You understand better of how others think and why they behave in such different ways than yours. By understanding more and more, we can create peace and make the world a better place to live. Accepting different cultures will not harm you. It will bring the best out of you.

For example, I like Indian culture because I have seen several movies which show their culture very beautifully.  I like the way they celebrate Holi, Diwali, and the way they dress up.  Luckily, one of my housemates is a beautiful Indian girl named Nilofar. I started talking about Indian culture with her since I wanted to know more and even to experience their beautiful ceremonies.  After one month she came to me and said “I don’t like Pakistani people because they are immoral and cruel people, but I found you totally different”. Then she asked me about my country and my culture, she was very eager to know about my culture because whatever was in her mind was not the true picture of my country. I told her the things I know and I showed her several documentaries about my country. I talked about my people and our way of living. We found that media is actually saying different things about our countries that create conflicts between us.

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We break the barrier of hatred and fear because now we know each other better. We share stories, food, laughter, and even sometimes tears. I respect her culture and I experienced more of it by joining her celebrating Durga Puja, Diwali, and Holi.

I also learn how much Indonesians love spicy food, I get to know how Colombians can’t eat spicy food at all, I witness how well African people dance, I love the way Turkish dress so fashionably, I become close friend with my roommate from Bangladesh as well. The more I know them, the more I feel peace and strength in me. It’s not bad to experience different culture and change is a positive thing not negative. Some people see only the outer shell and they never try to give others chance to show the true picture of their life.  Life is beautiful and we can make it more beautiful by understanding each other and respect each other no matter what it is the difference whether in culture, or different religion even different skin color. It’s all about humanity which makes us all alike.

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Post written by Meher Sultana, CCI Participant at NOVA 2016-2017, Pakistan

My Internship Experiences

Since the very beginning of the program I was very concerned about getting an internship. What is it about? How do I get an internship? What am I going to do? An internship is a type of job training where you are responsible to learn about your specific field of study or about how it is to have a job in a different organization, company, environment and even country. It is also very important for your future because doing internships help you not only to learn and get experience but also to establish relationships that you would probably need in the world of business. Furthermore, it helps you to have a more complete resume by having these experiences.

I am one of the lucky guys who had chances for internships early in the year of the program. I am doing some of my internship hours at Northern Virginia Family Service, an organization dedicated to helping the vulnerable families and individuals of Northern Virginia to find paths to stability and realize their full potential. I have always liked to help others and that is what it feels like by interning at NVFS.

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I acquired this internship in an easy way. Our coordinators organized an Internship/Volunteer Fair at the NOVA Annandale campus, where we had to dress formally and present our elevator speeches. While I was exploring the different opportunities with organization representatives, one of them said to me, “don’t go, I need your Spanish!” and that is where my internship journey started.

In this internship, I have been doing different things to contribute in the organization. I am learning from many sources; from my field of study to my personal daily life. The very first day of the internship I was treated as a normal employee of the organization. I was even invited to a meeting that is held regularly to review important information about the organization. It made me feel part of the team immediately.

My second internship experience is based on my field of study, which is Information Technology. My professor helped me to get this internship where I get to put to practice the things he taught me in class and even many more things about networking. I know much more than I did before I started. In this internship, I learn while giving technical support to one of the NOVA campus buildings in Annandale.

It’s amazing how I got along in these internships so easily. The purpose for organizations to give internship opportunities is not to selfishly avoid payment or increase profits; they want to help you achieve your goals! In my point of view, this is what internships are for-  to let you feel part of something bigger, something you can be part of, a place where you build not only your professional skills but also a vision for the future; your own future and the world’s future.

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Post written by Edzon Aquino Pineda, CCI Participant at NOVA 2016-2017, Dominican Republic

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

The Desirable Hunger

img_1742We are in the same program, boarded planes from all ends of the world to one common ground – Alexandria, VA. The mission of the program is to exchange cultures and create mutual understanding, but will that happen in the same order for all of us and will we fulfill that mission? Well, we all wrote seven long essays of why we deserved this opportunity over other applicants, but is that what won us the spot in this program? Hunger won. Our hunger to bring change into our communities gave us this opportunity, our hunger to further our studies won us this standing and our hunger to be better than we were when we wrote those essays, went to those interviews and writing those English tests made us deserving.

I’ve spent the last two and half months going to school, learning my way around this town, and the biggest thing I’ve realized here is that my hunger gets bigger and stronger by the day. Each morning I lay awake before my shower just thinking of all the things I will plant back into my community when  I go home; but then I stop myself because I don’t want to miss the joys of the present situation while forecasting. Hunger does that, it makes you yearn for the food you yet haven’t finished preparing but you can already smell it and get goose-bums at the thought.

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My hunger is pushing me out of my comfort zone and challenges me to think of bigger things that I know I wouldn’t have, had I let this opportunity pass me by. Let your hunger be a desirable one that encourages you to do good academically,  that allows you to experience life in Alexandria and let it drive you not to the grocery store only, but to places where your intelligence and capabilities will plant seeds of progress and humanity. We are not only here to further our studies, eat a lot of food, buy Apple gadgets or to travel around America or even to catch the accent- we are here to leave a print, a remarkable print. My hunger is my muse, what is your hunger?

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Post written by Millicent Mabotha, CCI Participant at NOVA 2016-2017, South Africa

The Girls Govern Town Hall Conference

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On the 14th of September 2016 I attended the Girls Govern Town Hall conference at George Washington University. The #GirlsGovern Town Hall conference concentrated on giving young ladies an opportunity to debate and discuss issues that matter to their generation while also inspiring and uplifting one another. It provided girls with an opportunity to act as moderators under the guidance of professional journalists, and up-and-coming young women in media and politics.

Attending this showed me the importance of uplifting each other as females instead of breaking one another down. My fellow attendees and I were embraced by the presence of ladies who are not afraid of rising up to challenge and and taking up leadership roles. Hearing a young 13 year tell us her story of how she gained the confidence to say enough is enough, and how she learned that she has the ability and skills to lead others successfully was refreshing and amazing.

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We were also embraced by the presence of the Ashlee Wilson Hawn, the founder and CEO of Red Cycle and Boss Babe Body. She started her organization which aims to supply young ladies with free sanitary pads; when she was down and out. I was amazed to see that the sanitary pad struggle is not only in my country South Africa, but that it’s an international crisis. The ladies speech inspires me to want to do more for ladies of my generation and by doing that I also will be inspiring other to help more and be more involved.

One of my favourite speakers of the day was Allyson Carpenter, an AAUW Alum/ Student Body President (D.C Elected Office)  from Howard University. She was my favorite because she explained how she ran for the Student Body President at Howard University while she was studying abroad at the UK (United Kingdom) on a scholarship. She mentioned how she used to hide behind her male friends by pushing them to lead while she would operate in the background and coach them because she didn’t believe that a woman’s place is in the front line.

Attending the conference has opened my eyes to so many things. It inspires me to take the lead and make a difference. If I don’t say enough is enough and do something about the lack of female leaders in my industry and community, I will be saying to my siblings and all the other ladies that it’s okay to hide behind a man.

It’s time to take a stand.

Post written by Kgaogelo Mbewe, CCI participant at NOVA, 2016-2017, South Africa