Tag Archives: Exchange Programs

THE HUMPHREY FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM, NOVA AND CCI PROGRAM CREATE MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING

This article originally appeared in the Northern Virginia Community College’s newspaper Above the Fold

Ms. Huyen Pham, a fellow from the Humphrey Fellowship Program from Vietnam, visited Northern Virginia Community College during the week of March 26 to participate in an international exchange of information and mutual understanding of major global issues -such as public health, while creating long-lasting meaningful and productive relationships and partnerships between NOVA and other countries. The week culminated on Friday, March 31, with a discussion with the Community College Initiative (CCI) Program participants about the Fellowship Program and the HIV/AIDS issues and substance abuse.

Ms. Pham has been a senior researcher for drug policy related studies with the Center for Research and Training on HIV/AIDS (CREATA) at Hanoi Medical University since 2009, and was previously awarded with a scholarship at the Australian Agency for International Development.

As part of the NOVA core mission of educational experience, the international exchange participation with Ms. Pham opened doors for the exchange of information with the NOVA and local community about issues of public health, substance use and abuse, HIV/AIDS, prevention, policies and human rights.

Meeting with Associate Dean Hemchand Gossai (left) & Dean Burton Peretti (right) of the Liberal Arts Division)

During the week, the members of the Humphrey committee organized meetings with the college members, staff and students at the Annandale and Medical Center campuses, and with experts from the National Institute of Health, the World Bank, Chris Atwood Foundation, and George Mason University. She had the opportunity to network and create significant connection that, according to her, “will help her to research and conduct evidence to advocate for different policies, involve the government, and change perspectives.”

Huyen & Kelly with Andrew B. Cornell, Dean of Allied Health & Interim Provost of MEC

The last day, Ms. Pham visited the participants of the Community College Initiative (CCI) Program at NOVA. Both the CCI Program and the Humphrey Fellowship Program are sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, provide ten months of non-degree academic studies in related fields, and foster a mutual exchange of understanding and knowledge.

Ms. Pham motivated the CCI Program participants to look for opportunities to learn and to give back to their communities. Naik Alam, CCI participant from Pakistan, said he is “interested in poverty alleviation in general, and the role of women in this cause. I really wish to have this kind of opportunities in the future, where we can work with our government on a policy level.” Rajesh Shanmugan, CCI participant from India, expressed that he wants to be a Humphrey Fellow in the future: “I want to make researches to find methods to cure cigarettes and alcoholism addiction, because many families in India are seriously affected by them.”

During the discussion, Ms. Pham said her major goals are to share her knowledge with the younger generation, to change policies, and to enhance the voice of those who are going through drugs and IHV/AIDS problems, and who are discriminated against by society, so that they can find support in the community. “They deserve to be seen as sick, not as criminals. They are humans as well,” she mentioned. Her work in ethnography studies has led her to be labeled as a drug consumer, since she spends most of her time with them. “I do it because I need to understand the reasons why they do it and what are their challenges,” she added.

Problems such as drug addiction and HIV/AIDS affect every nation, so she believes that through networking, conferences, and cooperation, the problem can be addressed. The goal is to inform and educate people from different parts of the world, and that is what the CCI Program is promoting with Humphrey Fellowship Program’s help.

 

Kgaogelo Mbewe, from South Africa, said “I though HIV/AIDS was only a problem in Africa, and after today’s discussion, my eyes have been opened to the fact that it is a worldwide problem, and that countries need to work together to educate people about the virus, how to protect themselves, and how to live and accept those who are already infected.” These issues are affecting all counties, because it is not only happening in Vietnam but everywhere. As Ms. Pham said, “What happens anywhere can happen everywhere.”

Post written by Vanesa de la Cruz, CCI Participant at NOVA 2016-2017, Colombia

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

Building Peace In A Diverse Society

“What we have to do… is to find a way to celebrate our diversity and debate our differences without fracturing our communities”. Hillary Clinton.

The above-mentioned quote perfectly portrays a beautiful image of the American society and its culture. In this modern era where developed nations are doing research to shift mankind on the other planets from the planet earth, and on the same time nations of third world countries are still struggling for their basic needs of their life like, education, food, health, gender discrimination, women empowerment, injustice and rule of law is different for poor and rich. Although it is the responsibility of the state to equally facilitate its citizen with these all basic needs of life, but since the economy of the state is not stable, since its own expenses are managed through taking loans from international banks, how a country can do that? In the process of development and economic stability, a country has to face many external and internal challenges and currently, one of the main internal problems in my country is diversity which became weakness and a threat for its stability and economic development. When a nation is united, diversity can be power and when we split into groups then diversity become a threat to the stability of the country.

Growing up in a place where conflicts between religious and political groups are routine of daily life and being minority receiving threats from powerful groups is also a big challenge. During my studies, I have moved a lot inside my country and these conflicts vary from region to region. In some places, religious radicalism is the main element and in other parts, political division is one of the main reasons which divides our nation into minor groups. Personally, getting into trouble due to these issues were making me think about how and when we will be able to build peace in our society. Stories from developed countries were always fascinating me, and I was curious to see it personally that how these big states like the US, Canada, European countries and other developed countries are dealing with these challenges which are more diversified than the countries where we live in.

Today, I am lucky enough to experience few amazing months of my life with these cool minded people and this would never had happened without this great opportunity of CCI Exchange Program. Living with the fellows from twelve countries, sessions arranged on peace-building, visits to historical places like the Newseum, and through presentations on historical figures of black community, their continuous struggle for their rights gave me an insight about how these countries succeeded to build a peaceful environment for all the citizens with disregards their colors, beliefs, cast and nationality. From these all different experiences, I came up with few of the main findings which can help us in moving towards building a peaceful, safe, fearless and a happy environment for all the people in our countries including minorities.

First, Politics, secular education, and religion are three different things, and if all these institutions work within their limits then it can be helpful in building harmony and peace. Just educating the students and making familiar with these institutions is not a problem, but in developing countries, religious and political organizations are more influential and by using their powers these groups have damaged our education system very badly. Besides that, these both groups are the main reason for creating conflicts inside our educational institutions which further leads these conflicts on a higher level. Therefore, the involvement of these groups need to be discouraged inside educational institutions and instead of that, these institutions should provide different platforms for the youth to keep them engage in educational, positive and healthy activities.

Second, all the religions teach basic principle of humanity, but when we take our beliefs at extreme level, and when we try to impose our thoughts on other instead of convincing them or making them understand though a logical discussion or by inspiring them through our behavior and good deeds, and when we stop giving respect to others beliefs then it becomes a disaster in the process of building a peaceful society, which further becomes the one of the main barrier towards the development of a nation as whole.

Third, think tanks around the globe can easily predict the future any country through the engagement of its youth in different activities. Since we don’t have enough opportunities through government to keep our youth in positive activities, but being responsible citizens of the country, communities should provide platforms for their own youth to keep them engage in positive and healthy activities. It’s a saying “Evil comes into mind when we stay idle”. These positive activities will further lead our youth to make connections with like-minded people from other communities who will be engaging in the same kind of activities.

Further, “Diversity is the art of thinking independently together” Malcolm Forbes. Since my graduation, I have studied so many subjects in different institutions, but I have never studied something about diversity and its importance. Instead of that, we have focused on our own group “Sects” which has divided our society into minor groups. We start to introduce our self with the cast, region, province, and finally, if we don’t say something our beliefs, people will surely interrogate me which is totally  a personal matter, and if we found some religious differences then we must have some negative stereotypes regarding their beliefs and  unfortunately it’s because we have sown the seeds of hate which made this diversity our weakness, but it can be our power when we become unite like other nations and for that purpose, we should start educating people regarding the importance of diversity and peace building.

Additionally, Intercommunity exchange programs can play a vital role in building understanding between different communities. If I am living with a fear of being convinced by others beliefs, then there is something wrong in my own faith. We should not hesitate to learn about something new, we should not worry about sharing our thoughts and if there are differences we should give respect to them and something inspiring we should take it from them. Being an exchange student, I am living with the fellows from twelve difference countries, we have so many differences in religions, culture, food, and different living style, but still we had so many things in common and we cherish those common things together and we give respect for the differences we have and actually these differences makes our group more colorful and interesting. It’s just been few months that we were strange fellows from different countries and now I consider them like my new family “the NOVA CCI Family” where we share our joy and we support each other when we have problems.

In conclusion, building peace in a society, where enmity has rooted so deep, is very challenging but still giving up is not a solution. So, I will recommend everyone to be open mind and try to experience and learn new things through meeting with people with different thoughts and opinions. Tolerance and patience are important things while discussing on differences among us so we could have a constructive conversation instead of destructive and prefer to discuss the common things we have instead of differences, which will help us to bring more close to each other. The more unite we are the stronger we will be as a nation and vice versa.

Post written by Naik Alam, CCI participant at NOVA, 2016-2017, Pakistan

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

Welcome to the CCI NOVA Blog!

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

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

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

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

Jaclyn & Kelly

Program Coordinators, CCI NOVA

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

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

NOVA 2016-2017 Group Picture
CCI-NOVA Alexandria

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

NOVA-AN Group Picture
CCI-NOVA Annandale

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

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

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