Tag Archives: Exchange Programs

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.”