Tag Archives: CCI Program

The Best Semester I Could Have Had

My fall semester was different from all the other CCI participants. I think this was the hardest semester of my life. When I arrived my English wasn’t so good and I needed to improve it as soon as possible. After the summer semester classes, I took the English test, and then I started my intensive English classes. Three months of good laughs and a tremendous improvement of my English. I learned a lot from my classes. My teacher was always providing us with something different in the classroom, like videos and music. We always made presentations and shared our experiences. I know that my English is really better now, thanks to my performance, my English classes and also the help of my housemates, Sarah and Helen.

Schawany with her housemates Sarah (Egypt) and Helen (Indonesia)

I got a better improvement also with volunteers. Talking to someone who speaks English has made me learn a lot and also lose the fear of speaking English. The conversation with an American is different and I find it a bit difficult. I learned that I do not have to be afraid to make mistakes in this phase of learning that I find myself in, it is super normal to make mistakes and I will not be judged because of them. All the people I met during my volunteers were very kind and patient with me, and this behavior made me a bit more confident about my English.

Now I can express myself, take other classes, and have long conversations with much more confidence. Those were good months of good use. I hope to get much more confidence when I start my internship, it will be another great step to complete.

Post written by Schawany Brito from Brazil, a 2018-2019 CCI participant at NOVA-Annandale.

PEACEBUILDING CONFERENCE & CONFLICT MANAGEMENT

The CCI program has changed my life dramatically, it has made me to be an open-minded person and to view life differently than I ever did before I got to United States. On the 25 of October 2018 I have attended the Alliance for Peacebuilding’s annual conference PeaceCon 2018. It was my first time in my life to attend such an amazing, and educating conference were people from various countries come together with a same objective of promoting peace.

Sibusiso as a volunteer at the Alliance for Peacebuilding Annual Conference

On that day I felt very important after the conference because I have gained mutual understanding pertaining the importance of peace. I have attended two sessions, the first session was based on how to resolve a conflict in places such as working environment, School, and within the community. I have met with different people that day, as a result I have accumulated up building ideas as well as making connection with different people. I was highly motivated by one guy from South Sudan, he created few games that are designed to promote peace. He told me about his background and the fundamental reasons why he came into senses of developing games that seek to promote peace. I am enthusiastically and highly motivated to start my own restaurant intended to promote peace, for example, I am going to provide variety of cuisine in the same restaurant with a motto that says welcome home. These are some of the component I have learned in order to resolve a conflict:

  • Remain calm, tempers will stand in the way of working through your differences. After all, the goal is making peace with one another, not getting revenge. Respectfully communicate to them, through a mediator if necessary, that you should both take some time to calm down. Then agree on a time and a place to discuss and resolve your conflict.
  • Be willing to understand what went wrong and try to come up with a solution.
  • Understand the background of various people, because we all have different opinions, values as well as culture.
    We should bear in mind that people have different personalities.
Sibusiso with Lual Mayen, Founder of Junub Games.

On the 30th of October 2018 I have attended workshop at NOVA Community college.
I have learned varies aspects that makes people to end up in dispute or conflict, the first reason is that we see things from different point of view. We were given few complicated pictures to identify anything could we see, what transpired is people gave different opinions that could stir up a dispute. However, we learned that we should respect the opinions of others and give our own views in such a way that we do not offend other feelings. I took two tests to examine my personality and I found I am an Amiable person, therefore I read all amiable qualities and I found that they match my personalities. I learned about other three personalities which are Analytical, Driver, and expressive. The primary reason of that test is to keep us aware that people are different, so we need to bear in mind when we work with them. This workshop opened my eyes wide now feel like I am ready to present this information when I return to my home country.

Based on all experiences that I have learned here in the U.S. I am eagerly looking forward to sharing them in my home country when I return home.

Post written by Sibusiso Chipeta from South Africa, a 2018-2019 CCI participant at NOVA-Annandale.

Thanksgiving with a traditional American family!

We all know, Thanksgiving is one of the most important traditions in the USA and brings family members together. This special holiday is also important for us -as CCI participants- to understand American culture. If you considered this as important progress step for yourself, probably you have spent Thanksgiving with an American family, like your social host. I wanted to make this tradition worthy and I decided to go to Pennsylvania to spend my Thanksgiving with a traditional host family!

One month ago, from Thanksgiving I have heard this trip from International Friends Community Organization, that we have here at NOVA area. They told that this trip would be amazing experience for me as an international student. Program was including staying with an American family and visiting Amish community at Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The process of registering for this trip I have learned that we can stay with someone in the same house, so my other CCI friend Alka Sharma and I determined to stay together with the same family. I was so excited, but at the same time I didn’t know what to expect. On Thanksgiving morning, we traveled to the Pennsylvania and met with our host families. Our hosts were Amos and Kate King, who have a very large family. They were amazing! That 3 days I spend with them was so precious. They made me feel like I was with my own family, which was what I needed. Our social family was so curios about our countries. They ask lots of questions about India and Turkey, and we were so excited to answer all of it! We had a chance to introduce our cultures correctly. At the same time, we also asked very deep questions about American culture, because they were very traditional, and it made us more curious about learning true American culture. In that 3 days we exchanged our cultures a lot. Just like us, they were so respectful to our cultures. Even though there were 3 different religions in that house, we never felt different or outcast. I personally took too many things about American culture.

Since, one of CCI programs’ purposes is exchanging our cultures; this was a great opportunity for me. I think meeting and spending time with American families is the best way to determine American culture. If you can’t find this kind of opportunities you can try to spend more time with your social hosts.

Post written by Emel Eylül Akbörü  from Turkey, a 2018-2019 CCI participant at NOVA-Annandale.

HOME AWAY FROM HOME

Getting ready to go down to a place where no relation is going to be close yet it’s going to be your HOME was one I feared. Certainly I needed to let go and just accept the challenge. Left family, friends, colleagues and customers behind. Brokenhearted! How was I going to make new memories in this new place, AMERICA?

Being home sick was obviously expected yet I tried not to make it evident. Told myself I was going to make the best out of every possible encounter I make. Not long I lost a colleague back home few weeks after I arrived. Was broken. I picked up fast with the notion that it is well. As if that was not enough, I lost my grandmother. Was left in shackles literally and shut down. She was my ultimate testimony of a strong woman who raised her children and grandchildren the best way. Crushed like never before I wanted to leave the program and go back home to Ghana because in as much as I wanted to do this major step for myself and my future, I wanted her to at least witness my come-up. I guess that was the universes’ way of putting things into place and throwing into my face greater challenges. The bait cast to me was a dicey one.

 

Could have changed my mind and gone home if not for some beloveds such as Kelly Forbes who was much more soothing than I thought. Every lady in my apartment also played a major role in keeping me on my feet in the CCI program.

Abigail with her CCI friends

Emily Miller who is my social host has been one of the amazing people I have come across here in the United States and also being a participant of the CCI Program. That be said, I have been here only few months and I have experienced love and joy in a more different way. Together as a duo we have been to a fashion exhibition in Washington DC which was awesome. Had the chance to interact with other designers who came to showcase their clothing and arts. Had an American meal in one restaurant in DC, loved it. We ran in the rain like kids and it felt like sisterhood. Had the chance of shopping and cooking with Emily and during these moments I had this feeling of her being my mom. She made me belong openly without any barrier.

Abigail and Emily

Working as a volunteer in her office gave me the opportunity to shadow who exactly she was. Her employees love her for who she is. Emily defines what patience and love for humanity is. Her son Austin is adorable.

There wouldn’t have been any other ways to have felt like I belonged if not for the initiative made by the CCI Program to link us with social hosts. This has made my stay here if not memorable, a delightful experience. Her friends have been very true and sweet to me in diverse ways. We have once had a ladies night where I shared my culture as to how to cook a Ghanaian food and they were gladly interested and willing to help. They came in with gifts for everyone as well. We paired the Ghanaian meal with American side dishes. They tasted yummy together.

Abigail with Emily and her mother.

Post written by Abigail Daitey from Ghana, 2018-2019 CCI participant at NOVA-Annandale.

Feeling Thankful

Right from the start of selection, the thought that kept ringing in my mind was how was I to cope with my stay in the USA. I got selected for the Community College Initiative Program. It is an exchange program organized and sponsored by the US Department of State. It brings together participants from 12 countries who live together to study in selected Community Colleges in the US. The Community College Initiative is founded on five pillars which includes academics, volunteerism, internships, leadership and action planning, and cultural exchange. The pillar of cultural exchange requires us to meet new people through sharing our culture with one another and experiencing other cultures too. My few months of stay in the States has brought me in contact with wonderful people. It has open me up to people with different cultures with whom I interact on a daily basis. Being a Community College Initiative Participant requires you to have special people called social hosts. These people are American citizens that are given to us in order to help us better understand American culture. My social host for this program is Torrian. She is an amazing lady who strives to make me feel at home here in the US. Torrian schedules time most often after work to spend quality time with me. She educates me on issues pertaining to America and how to make the best out of my stay here. She is always there for me when I need her and is ever ready to help. Torrian by far is making my stay in the US enjoyable. In this season of thanksgiving, I want to express my gratitude to her. I am thankful for the new family I have got.

Celebrating Kekeli’s birthday at Springfield Town Center
Kekeli and Virdiani with their social host, Torrian

 

Post written by Roseline Kekeli Odzor from Ghana , a 2018-2019 CCI participant at NOVA-Annandale.

The Laramie Project is my way of improving speaking skills

As a CCI Program participant from Indonesia, I have a weakness in speaking skills. Thanking for the first three weeks at Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC), an ESL class was held in preparation for entering the actual lecture. When I entered the actual class and joined a fluent English-speaking student, I was confused. Why? I really wanted to talk but I was embarrassed, afraid not to be understood by Professor and friends in class. Once, my fall semester has started, I became a listener only in class. I understand what Professor was saying but I did not dare to comment.

On September 25, 2018, I applied an audition for Fall Play, The Laramie Project, at NVCC. At that time, I said to myself, let me try this opportunity; moreover, I did not need to memorize and prepared anything. Good news, I was accepted in this project and the rehearsals were carried out from September 26 to November 7, 2018. I spent three hours, Monday till Thursday. At first, I felt inferior when I knew all friends, who came in Fall Play, were very fluent in English. I would like to step down but I consider this was a great opportunity to improve my speaking skills, interact with native speaking friends and learn theater arts at NVCC.

As time went by, I had been able to adapt to the atmosphere of the practice and began to say correctly the words in the script especially my pronunciation.

Finally the performance time arrived, November 8-11 2018, in CC building Room 115 and it was four times of shows. In the beginning, I was afraid and trembling if the audience would understand what I was saying later.

I have excellent experiences after joining The Laramie Project. I meet Professor Sara Weinstock, Jeremy Pritchard, and great friends who help me since beginning till the end.  Now, I am more confident in my speaking skills, I understand how to interact with people here, and I get new friends in NVCC.

Post written by Virdiani from Indonesia, a 2018-2019 CCI participant at NOVA-Annandale.

I have never felt in my life that I`m progressing

Have you ever asked yourself about what you are doing, usually during some decision process? And did you know that asking questions about everything would help your personal development? I have learned this, and I am still doing that in my CCI journey. How? Here it is!

One of the most important things in this life is personal development, right? Well, for me, it is. I’m just 20 years old, and until this time, I have never thought about my personal development and never thought if I’m doing something to improve myself in life. Until the CCI Program’s inception, I knew this is it! I didn’t know this program will teach me about life at all, especially in a short time.

 

It has been only 4 months, but I realize that I never had a chance to listen to myself, and ask questions like ‘what I am doing?’ I found out, the first step of personal development, is asking questions. Always ask questions about what you are doing at that moment. I had lots of chance to do this and think about it. After I am done questioning myself, I try to find out what may be wrong about what I was dealing with. I try my best to fix it -even though I know I cannot reach the solution-. Anyways, I realize that just thinking about it makes me careful about it the next time.

The reason why I figured it out in my CCI program journey is, perhaps the opportunities that it has given me to do things on my own. I have never lived alone all my life. My family used to tell me that I should try to do things as they may seem easy with consistency.  It is evident that most experiences are learnt the hard way, as things do not come easy as we expect. Now, the only person who is giving me advice is my coordinator Kelly Forbes. She always guides me to making decisions. The last option though is up to me. In order to make the best out of it, I ask questions concerning any type of decisions I make. This is not just helping me with my personal decisions, it is also affecting my relationship with other people especially with my friends. CCI program is helping me in every type of subject and I am sure that CCI will help me to build my life.

Post written by Emel Eylül Akbörü  from Turkey, a 2018-2019 CCI participant at NOVA-Annandale.

THE IMPACT OF CCI PROGRAM ON MY ACADEMIC LIFE

The Community College Initiative (CCI) Program is an exchange scholarship program organized by the US department of state. The program gives opportunity to students from about twelve countries to learn about the USA culture as well as exchange theirs with others. In my opinion, this program brings peace and diversity among students. Participants get the chance to learn new things and develop action plans, engage in volunteering activities that will be helpful to their community back in their home country. Academics as one of the five pillars of the CCI program, has had a great impact on my educational life within this three months of my stay in the USA as a CCI participant, I have found great impact on my educational life at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) as I experience some resources used on campus that I do not have in my country. These include using Blackboard service, Library and academic success center to help students in their academic life.

Library on the NOVA Alexandria campus

The college has a library and academic success center that helps students with difficulties in their courses. The library has variety of books that are free for students to have access.  They provide database of articles and resources that are well cited and can be used for research work. At the library, there are lots of computers that students can use for studying, a quiet study area and a space for group studies. The librarians help student to search for books relevant to their courses and help them in editing their essays and articles. On the other hand, the Academic Success Center has a writing center that helps students with writing essays and provide guidelines for writing good research works. They also have tutors that help students to gain further understanding in their field of studies as well as organize seminars for students on how to be successful in their Academic life. I personally attended a seminar organized by the success center on how to manage time and making effective use of it.

Having a discussion with a tutor at the Academic Success Center.

The college uses blackboard service which is used to access student’s portal. This service is very important because it displays announcement of the different courses that students take. It also has a discussion board where students can ask questions and interact with their professors as well as other students in their class. This makes posting of announcements, assignments, and other information easily to be accessed by students.

The CCI Program has expose my understanding in my academic life where I meet and study with people of different culture and background. I have more resources on campus that helps me get better understanding in my field of studies which is engineering. My interaction with others in class is improving my communication skills and confident level. These resources have helped me improved my academics in this few months.

Valentina with other CCI participants at NOVA

Post written by Valentina Asempah from Ghana, a 2018-2018 CCI participant at NOVA-Alexandria.

Three Months Ago

Three months ago, I was in a process of being selected for something that would change my perception of the world, community, kindness. Three months ago, I embarked from Brasilia, DF to Washington, DC. At that point, I already imagined the challenges I will encounter, such as adapting to a new form of living and speaking a new language that I wasn’t quite used to speak.

Being an international student is not a piece of cake, especially when you do not speak the language. I remember going through several linguistic tests before coming to the United States, but even with that experience I had some difficulties once I arrived. The first one was on my way to DC, in the John F. Kennedy airport, where I lose a flight because I couldn’t communicate myself properly. Experiencing difficult times to speak the language didn’t stop me from improving and as a popular saying says, “when there’s a will there’s a way”, meaning that nothing is impossible if you really want it, and I was sure I wanted this, so I figure out some ways to improve my communication skills.

Lelre with Nora Lopez, Director of Programs and Service at ComputerCore

For me, the best way to learn the language is by getting involved with the local community. So, in my second month of exchange, I began volunteering in a non-governmental organization, just as I was doing in Brazil. Helping students to conquer fears of learning computer and internet basics, thus giving back to the US the opportunity to learn to the less fortunate citizens at the same time as practicing my English. I taught seniors and adults how to work with a computer for 1 month, not only developing professional but personal skills.

Lelre with David Drake, ComputerCore lead instructor, and Sundar, CCI participant from India

I was also introduced to amazing people from other universities that were doing volunteering at the same place, young students and even graduated people were there helping seniors and foreign citizens to master technology. Something that impressed me greatly was the mutual interest from local citizens to help others without making any profits, but only the satisfaction of making a significant impact in other people lives.

So far, I have had a great experience in CCI Program, since the friends I have made to the challenges that I have faced, challenges that have been improving myself as never before.

Post written by Lelre Ferreira da Silva from Brazil, a 2018-2019 CCI participant at NOVA-Alexandria.

THREE MONTHS IN THE CCI PROGRAM

AN OVERVIEW OF MY EXPERIENCE OF THE LAST THREE MONTHS IN THE CCI PROGRAM

I have now been in America nearly for 3 months and I am having the time of my life. From the moment I set foot in this country life has been nothing but a fun filled but an academically awarding roller coaster.

Coming from a background in India where you are living with your parents and are basically dependent on them for everything, being on your own is a big change. Luckily for me I have really good housemates who make me feel at home at all points of time. Though all of us are from different countries we yet put in effort in understanding each other and respect each other’s way of living. What this has done for me is that it has taught me to adapt and make most out of what I have and I feel that is a very helpful skill for anyone from anywhere in the world.

Three of Aaron’s housemates from South Africa, Kenya, and Bangladesh

My CCI Coordinator at NOVA, Kelly has been Nothing but a mother to me and all the CCI participants she has  helped us with the smallest of things and knowing she’s always just a phone call away is like a safety blanket for all the CCI participants here in NOVA.

Being on the NOVA Annandale Campus one can argue confidently that they are in one of the best colleges in America. There are numerous facilities in the campus like the language Lab, Writing Centre, library Media room etc, that are really helpful for students with the help of these facilities one can gain a lot of knowledge. There is always some event or the other going on in campus by the various campus clubs; therefore there is always a fun and festive environment in the campus. The teachers and staff here in NOVA are very helpful understanding and brilliant. They make sure that you understand what they are explaining and until you don’t, they won’t move on.

On field trip to Manassas National Battlefield Park

Northern Virginia and Washington D.C is one of the safest and kindest areas in America. People out here are so genuinely nice, kind, helpful and polite that on instantly feels welcomed and happy. I have made so many friends in events and volunteering activities so quickly due to kind nature of people out here. Even your teachers are so nice that you don’t hesitate to share a problem you’re facing in class as you now they will help you out.

At the United Nations General Assembly Youth Blast Meeting.

In conclusion the CCI Program has been nothing but a dream for me. I feel grateful to be part of this program and wish to participate in it complete and to the best of my abilities. I feel I can give back so much of what I have learnt here back home and implement great change in India. I have seven months left to go and the only feeling I feel right now is excitement for what the future here in America holds.

Post written by Aaron Mistry from India, a 2018-2018 CCI participant at NOVA-Annandale.