Tag Archives: India

CCI Through My Eyes

CCI THROUGH MY EYES

Studying in the US was the biggest dream I ever had. I got the opportunity through the CCIP (Community College Initiative Program). Back in India I was studying and working at the same time. I used to work for 14 hours a day; I was working as a Teacher in an organization and on weekends I used to work as a personal tutor. I started teaching in my community when I was 13 years old. I had a big dream to do something different in the IT field but I did not know how to go about it. After a lot of hard work and I came to the USA. New country, culture, language.

(Outside the Alexandria Campus)

Every day I feel like a new life I got here. I found a really great learning opportunity in the USA. I came here with my goals and plans so, whenever someone asked me “what is your next goal?” I always answer sometimes people laugh but I keep focus on my goal. I was pursuing my graduation from distance learning education where I could not learn practical’s. I am a student of IT. As my major is Cybersecurity I learn a lot. There are tons of opportunities for students to learn something new for example, I have been to an event in Marymount university and it was free for students only. There was one guest speaker came who was from NIST (National Institute of Standard and Technology). It was a very great night for me. A lot of information, networking, and I realize that I can achieve how much I want here. Since then I started looking for more opportunities and my coordinator always support me to do. I attend their events to learn new information which is really helpful. One day I was researching health and I read one important thing “ if you really want to be on a track so, keep learning about that topic “ I started following. One day I got to know about Amazon career day and I was so curious to know about it.  I went to the place and I found that Amazon is not a normal corporation because it took 40 min to go inside. There were a lot of people a huge crowd. I got to know there AWS certificate is more important which is provided by Amazon. Since then my hungriness of learning increased.

(Attending a presentation)

(Line outside of Amazon Career Day)

Everyday learning I am able to connect with my main goal. I got an internship which is similar to my goal. I work as an Instructor of Technology in Action and Career Development. I have to make my students enable to get better jobs and help them to find their careers. When I was applying for the CCI Program, my main goal was to provide IT education to students who are really great but could not get an opportunity. This is just one look for the CCI program. I did volunteering, internships, action plans, and fun. These experiences are fun. I generally go to the events for volunteering and I learn a lot about people their culture, countries, their work style. I have an opportunity to learn about American culture through my Social Hosts and our Coordinator. I never realize that I am away from my family as I have my hosts and my coordinators.

Every day It is full of excitement but still, I open my excel sheet about my details and check how many days are gone. This document makes me excited every day and gives more dreams for INDIA for my nation my dreams for my family.

(Attending the Amazon Career Summit)

Rashi Saini

Climate

Sled dogs run through meltwater in north-western Greenland. STEFFEN M OLSEN VIA TWITTER / DANISH METEOROLOGICAL INSTITUTE

We all hate the fact that the weather is getting warmer, that the food we love to eat is scarcely available, that many parts of the world have limited to no access to clean water.

This note, coming from a fellow human, who has seen the deadly consequences of Climate Change first-hand, is quite underwhelming. From multiple cyclones to a major flooding event to a really bad drought, I have seen them all within a disturbingly small period of 4-5 years.

Climate Change is a big deal for me, as it should be for everyone else. This is because, the proper functioning of the Planet matters more than anything, as it is the primary reason of survival of whatever that is standing, sitting, jumping, walking, crawling, etc., on this magnificent mass of ice, water, air, and land. Without which, nothing will exist.

There’s a lot more to this. We don’t have to do something significant, just changing the way in which we do a couple of small things can make a major difference. Never think that you are too small to make a difference.

As CCI participants, there’s a certain amount of responsibility on our shoulders. We are the ambassadors of our country and are an example to all those that are directly impacted by us.

Some of the ways in which we can reduce our carbon footprint are, taking a reusable steel water bottle when we go out, using reusable bags to buy groceries, taking a small towel or handkerchief so that we don’t have to use paper towels, eat less meat whenever possible, taking a short shower, and the list goes on.

I want to use this opportunity to learn more about the effects of Climate Change and how to combat the same in the US and beyond. There is so much of exposure in this country, which I wish to take advantage of. I would also like to share my experiences and thoughts with the fellow participants and whoever my path crosses with.

A lot of organizations in the US encourage the general public and the students like us to engage in both volunteering activities and internships to work alongside them to combat this major issue. There is umpteen amount of opportunities around us, we just have to keep our eyes open and our ears sharp enough.

As an individual, we can create an action plan to reduce our carbon footprint slowly, but steadily. For example, we can start reducing the amount of single-use plastics that we buy, use, and throw away in an instant. Every single contribution towards the greater good helps the Planet.

More than helping the planet, you are helping yourself first – to become a more responsible and a conscientious human being.

When I return back to my country, after this year of study in the United States, I wish to use all that I have learnt from my experiences and contribute towards achieving a greener and sustainable future by collaborating with many of the different organizations who are working towards the same unified goal.

As my major is Business and Entrepreneurship, my future plan is to start a business, a very sustainable one at that, to go along with my beliefs. I want to be an example to the rest of them, who say that sustainable practices and profits do not go along well with each other, by proving otherwise.

It does sound like a big dream, but what value does it hold if it is not so. So, I encourage every single one of you, who is reading this entry, to have big dreams and work towards them without compromising on your values midway for temporary and materialistic results. Have an insanely good life, full of positivity and success!

Participants get vocal during a global climate change action strike on Sept. 20 in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. They are demanding that the German government and corporations take a fast-track policy towards lowering CO2 emissions and combating global warming.

(Photo: Maja Hitij / Getty Images)

Some of the other quotes that I’d like to share,

“It’s Never Too Late”

“Care about the Planet as much as you Care about who you Believe Created it”

“Don’t be a Fossil Fool”

“Winter is not Coming Anymore”

“There is no Plan(et) B”

https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/climate-change/

https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

https://www.ipcc.ch/

https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/climate-change-evidence-causes/basics-of-climate-change/

A note by,

Aswin Raghav Rengarajan (CCI Participant – India – 2019/20)

 

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.

Yes, I am More Optimistic Now….

“Now close your eyes and take a deep breath! Write about your kind of world that you want to live”. By giving a final task for all of us, he finished his presentation and put down the power point which had been lighting the entire room for the past 2 hours. It was a fine Friday! For CCI participants it’s CSI Friday.  Every week we have CSI class. This is the day the 30 CCI Program participants sit and talk together, study together and have fun together. That’s how we say good bye to our exhausting busy weeks and make a grand beginning to our weekends. This CSI class was about how to find our real passion and put it into innovative ideas. The smart and enthusiastic instructor from the Ashoka Foundation took us on a journey through his amazing style of presentation. Then it was our turn to look deep inside our heart and ask ourselves what we were really passionate about? What kind of world we wanted to create and live in? I looked around. Everyone was busy with making their own imaginary world. A world which they found peaceful and beautiful, a world where they could be successful and happy. The thought of originating thirty new and innovative ideas about a better world made me so excited. I found it amazing.

For five minutes I spent nothing but watching others. I tried to focus on my paper and write something. The white blankness really annoyed me. I wanted to fill it with multiple colors of thoughts, but I couldn’t. That was frustrating. There are a lot of things that I care about, things that I wanted to change. Where should I start and where should I end? I hate it when somebody takes advantage of others by exploiting their incapability. I hate it when some people are privileged only because they are in a particular religion, cast, ethnicity or gender. I hate it when opportunities are not equally distributed. I hate when people don’t care about others. I just realized my kind of world was very far away from my reality. Finally, I wrote “I want to live in a world where nobody is privileged over others and everybody has the equal freedom and choices to live a life that they love. I read it again and again. I found a cold stream started to flow from the bottom of my heart. It didn’t make me happy but more disappointed. I knew it was too flowery and fantastical for others. But it was from my real passion even though I was not confident about it.

‘Ok, now you guys have to walk around, find one of your CCI friends and share your thoughts with each other”. We got the second task from the instructor. Suddenly the whole class transformed into a gentle motion. We started to walk by carrying worlds full of expectations and found a partner to share. Many small groups of two people formed around me. I felt the atmosphere getting filled with some positive vibes. Laughs, arguments, suggestions and hugs were all over the room.  I found my partner. We accidentally bumped into each other. She pulled out her ripped note book page and held it closely for me to see. I saw a picture of glob with small human sketches and a big smile. I let her speak first because I was embarrassed by my own assumption that my thoughts could be too unrealistic, and she might not get the point. She started to speak. “I always dream of a world where everybody has an opportunity to make their dreams come true. You know, I want to live in a world where each person really matters. She stopped… Is that too much to wish?” she asked. “Never,” I replied. I was continuously smiling while listening to her. I saw the same cold stream developed in me flowing through her heart and wetting her eyes. We hugged each other. I realized that dreaming big is not a fault. Being without any dream is a fault. All great leaders had visions and beautiful dreams. All of them seemed impossible until they came true.  CCI taught me that you are never alone in pursuing a passion to bring changes in this world. I experienced it several times throughout my journey as a CCI participant. I realized it when we started to use a lot of “we” instead of ‘I’ in our action plans and even single conversations. I realized it when we shared sorrows and happiness regardless of our religion, gender, or nationality. I believed in it when my fellow CCI students and I started to care more about the pleasure from giving back to the society not just volunteering hours, and when we found the feeling of home with our host families. CCI brought group of people into my life to made me realize that my vision for a better world is not far away.  Yes, I am more optimistic now, I started to bring changes in my life. I hope I can extend those positiveness to others life as well.

 

CCI NOVA 2017-2018

 

Post written by Diana Nadira Puthusseri, CCI participant at NOVA-Annandale from India.

CCI Cohort Visit to the National Museum of the American Indian

Shuvajit Saha (India) and Vuyani Maduna (South Africa) outside of the National Museum of the American Indian

Self-determination of nations is very vital, more and more of previously colonized and oppressed people of the world are trying to recapture what they lost as a result of being invaded and subjected to pain and suffering. The natives of America find themselves still fighting for self-determination and self-government in the United States of America. The NOVA CCI cohort visited the National museum of American Indians to learn about their history, Culture, Suffering and oppression. When the colonizers arrived in the Americas they found native people living in the land – the colonizers wanted to expand the kingdom of their native lands and they were determined to conquer the new world by all means necessary, others were driven by creed and the love of money which turned them into ruthless and heartless people.

The invasion of America by foreign forces destroyed the native people, there were wars and conflicts that resulted in scores of deaths on both sides. They two sides realized there won’t be no solution to their fight they decided to enter into agreements, these agreements would ensure that the invaders would live in America but they should never try to conquer the lands of the Natives. These agreements were called treaties, but as more invaders came to America, land was needed for the people – these new pressing development led to the invaders breaking the treaties and those actions led to more wars between the Natives and the invaders.

Shuvajit Saha (India) and Muhammad Arham (Indonesia) at the National Museum of the American Indian

The invaders were determined to build a new nation in a land they just invaded and conquered. The thirteen States of America were formed with George Washington becoming the first president of the United States of America, the concept of the United States spelled destruction for Native Americans – the more the new country expanded the more the treaties were broken and the more the natives lost their land. The worst president for the Natives was Andrew Jackson who initiated the forced removals of

 the natives to make way for European settlement, and these forced removals are notoriously known as “the trail of tears”

Even in the present USA Native Americans still face oppression and their lands which are called reservations keep on be undermined and disregarded by fellow Americans and the government.

Post written by Shuvajit Saha, CCI participant at NOVA-Alexandria from India

Friendship Beyond My Expectation

Before my departure from Ghana I had two days sleepless nights, and all was about how to live together with different people of different cultures, believes and personalities for a year. When I arrived at my apartment with my program coordinator, we met Kiki who was the first person there, she welcomed me with smile and helped me with my luggage to my room, and all what I was expecting how difficult life would be vanished that day.

Kiki (Indonesia), Diana (India), Abibata (Ghana), & Shwethana (India)

The friendship of these girls leads me to the incredible experience; we always move together, eat together, have fun, share our cultures, problems and help each other, when we needed. I have never felt homesick because these girls have made me feel like I am with my blood sisters. What I experience from this people is that, color, culture and believes have no borders in friendship and relationship, what matters is understanding each other and respecting other views.

I had experience within my four months stay here, from fellow CCI participants, in my class, my host mom, and volunteer work, especially working with the elderly. Before I came here, I never knew that old age can loss their memory and behave abnormally but my volunteer with them made me understand this and how to deal with it.

Post written by Abibata Yakubu, CCI participant at NOVA-Annandale from Ghana

My Experience in First Two Weeks

I am Shruv. When I reached at Washington DC I was very scared, unknown country, unknown people, and unknown rules. There was a lot of thoughts in my mind, But when I came to my apartment I was just shocked my roommates were too friendly with me, which I never expected. They treat me as a younger brother.

When I went to the campus I was silent and I just talk to my few friends, but the other guys came to me and they want to know about me which I had lack in my country. Now every single day I feel like a celebrity everyone want to know about me, my culture, and my customs. My friends never said anything wrong about my English cause my English is not good yet.

After joining this program my confidence level is increased day by day, also I knew a very important thing that is ‘don’t judge a book by his cover’.

This program is not just going to teach me about my major subject this will also teach me how to be a good person in life. Not only this program every single participant taught me something. Sometimes I inspired by their lifes how they achieved this opportunity. Now I am able to know many countrys culture, ethics by their ambassador beside if this thinks we have  a guide a very caring guide miss Kate and Kelly who teach us how to deal with our problems and encouraging us.

So it is a very nice experience for me to join such a huge program and thank you so much.

The thing I most like about people they listen to me and they tell me what is good for me . Thank you so much for a beautiful journey which just begin now.

 

Post written by Shuvajit Saha, 2017-2018 CCI participant at NOVA-Alexandria from India

Finding Inner Light

Namaste. Tu kaise hei? Me teek hu. Dhanyavaad.

So I had to learn how to say some basics in Hindi because it seems that, for almost everyone who meets me by the first time, I am Indian. People literally have come to me and said “Namaste,” or suddenly start speaking in Hindi. I usually said “Namaste” as well, but then I explain that I am not Indian, that I am Colombian. Then they apologize, but what they don’t understand is that there is nothing to apologize for. For me, it is a pleasure to be call Indian.

With this, I do not mean I am not proud of being Colombian. In fact, I am a proud Latina and I would not have wanted to be born anywhere else in the world. I just like the fact that people think I am Asian. By the way, Indian girls are beautiful, why would I be upset by that? Haha!!

Before coming to USA, I was already really interested in Indian culture, traditions, religion, movies and music. I remember taking dancing classes where the music was Indian and watching movies of this handsome guy who cooks delicious Indian dishes. I never thought I was going to meet real Indians, and that I was going to be taken as one.

Each October, the Indians and some Pakistanis Celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights, one of their major festivals. Since my friends knew I love immersing in new cultures, they planned to invite me to go with them to the temple. I delightedly accepted, I love the idea of “the victory of light over darkness.” But, they not only took me to the temple, they also made me look just like one of them.
The preparations started about three hours early. I first did not understand why would it take that long, but then I came to know. Nilo, from North India, provided me the Sari, some Jewelry and a matching yellow Kum Kum (that I still have kept in a safe place). Nimmy, from South India, took me to her room and we started the complicated process or making me look as close as a real Indian. Some baby powder here and there, little perfume, a nice makeup and pink lips, smooth hair and all the jewelry on. The Sari was the hardest part; I will try to describe it in two words: safety pins. Nimmy spent like 12 safety pins in my Sari, but she is just so good at it that she made it look perfect. It had some folds in one of my shoulders that fell down to one of my hips. After the Sari, minimal retouches were needed and we were ready to go. The night before,
Nimmy applied Mehndi in one of my hands.

While Nimmy, Nilo and Naveen (who is from Pakistan), were helping me to get ready (or basically doing everything for me), I felt like I was part of something bigger. They made me feel like a part of their cultures, they taught me how to behave, how to move, how to act. They told me stories of their lives and their cultures while we were alone. I felt really close to them, and the feelings I experienced are hard to describe: I was just so special but so common at the same time.

Then, the guys came to pick the three of us up. I was concern about how people were going to react. What if they did not like me acting like one of them? My anxiety was getting bigger the closest we were to the temple. Once there, we removed our shoes at the entrance, washed our hands, and went inside. I never saw anything like that before. It was full of colors, people wearing beautiful and elaborated clothes, smells, and representations of different Gods.

My friends always indicated me how to act, how to pray and what to say to people. I think anybody noticed that I was not and Indian, thanks to my friend’s instructions. We went to each God, we prayed sometimes and we sat on the floor for a while. I was feeling delicate and protected. I was comfortable with myself. Indians and Pakistanis are friendly and kind, they gave us sweets and a lot of smiles.

Once in home, they cooked some Indian traditional food. I did not want to remove the Sari, I wanted to keep it on because I was feeling so different; out of my comfort zone, but I was enjoying it. Eventually I did, and the process of removing was almost as hard as putting it.

I am sure my Indian and Pakistani friends do not know yet how meaningful that experience was for me. It was a real immersion. I am glad they made me feel one of them, because sometimes is good to be someone else. I feel bless to be able to discover and experience all these different traditions, and to learn from them. If you are reading this guys, thank you! That day was unforgettable, you may not understand how much, but it was. You taught me how big and open-minded love and friendship can be. This festival truly brought lights to my life.

We do not have to forget who we were to learn who we are, or to leave an open door to who we would be. I am Colombian, I like to be Indian sometimes, and I have no idea what would I be tomorrow. But I am willing to discover it. And my mind is as open as my heart.

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

You Are Not Alone

Participating in Women’s March in Washington DC was the first time for me. I am glad that I was able to join millions of other women to rise up for what we believe in, for our rights to be heard. It was a great experience. Walking side by side with not only women but also men without looking at our races or religions or other differences in fact everyone was very friendly, supportive and caring. I have been living in USA for 6 months but that day I saw such crowd I’ve never seen before. At the Metro station there were so many people who tried to get in the train, there was almost no space inside that everyone had to tolerate the situation and try to make room for more people to come in. Before, whenever I used Metro people didn’t really talk to other people but at that moment I saw how people would lend other people their hands to come into the train, to help others. I and my sisters met their friends, they came with posters and other attributes that represented things that everybody was standing for, respect for woman, women rights, etc. People gathered and started encouraging each others with speeches, sometimes we also sang songs or simply walking down the streets. That day I learned something I never learned in the classroom, to always stand up for what I believe, to speak up for it, to not feel small in front of others. This kind of opportunity for women is very hard to get in my country, India, as girls are not treated equally. For example, girls in India can barely continue their education after 10th grade, this breaks my heart and I hope I can be a help for this social problem. Another problem is the lack of support for LGBTQ community in my country, they don’t have anybody to stand for them, for their rights. I felt so bad thinking about my people especially the suppressed ones, when I witnessed how people in United States can freely express their struggles and they also have so much freedom and support from other people, I wish for the same thing in my country as well. I really concern about how bad the girls in my country are treated. They are not safe if they go out after 10pm, there’s always a possibility that they will get raped. If they are working and coming home late neighbors will start talking bad about themselves without knowing that they work hard only to support their families. I hope I can help my community to start standing for girls by sharing the knowledge and experience I have gained to them and hopefully it will bring change. I know it will be difficult but it is worth trying.

Post written by Nilofar Shaikh, CCI participant at NOVA, 2016-2017, India

My Life in a Year

It all started with a dream to study in USA. A dream to live a student life in the states. CCI has helped me to make this dream true. Started my journey in June 2014 which changed my whole life, my perception towards life and made me emotional too. LOL
I remember myself as a big guy with low confidence and trying to make new friends. Trying to adjust with new people and being over-friendly which led to a lot of misinterpretations about me among people. The only women who was with me as true mentor, a true guardian was Kelly Forbes. ‘’You don’t have to be fake and over-friendly to make friends” her words that changed me. She’s the best gift that USimg_8104A has given me. I can’t forget her early morning messages when I was in Las Vegas “Akhlaq don’t spend all of your money’’ I bet no other coordinator would have been as concerned as she was with me. She pushed me far away from my self-bound limits to be independent and to be responsible. If I really want to describe her in one word she was mother and I’m fortunate to have her in my life as coordinator.

Jaclyn Ruybalid Krueger! The enthusiast coordinator whenever I saw her she was there with that beautiful smile. She always had a positive energy which reflects on her face that can change everyone’s day.

 

In my experimg_8102ience I’ve found many common skills with each CCI participants and I tried to upgrade myself to be better than before. I’ve learned so many things from these that I can’t mention them. I never thought I would be surrounded by so many pearls from different countries and getting to know them. Friends from CCI is the best thing one can have. Experiencing friendship other than CCI was bonus for me as I got to know people from Afghanistan, Thailand, Korea, and Ethiopia……. Omg! The list is never ending. In short I’ve friends from all over the world.

Volunteering at events and enjoying those events with free food, can’t describe that happiness.


These events taught me to serve for community. I never thought I would complete my volunteering hours without Luiza Arnaud and Bassem Alfy these guys always pushed me for volunteering. Talking with Khaled Soltanto (Habibi) always motivated me to get something I liked. My roommates were typically awesome hahahaha! Each of those guys have different perception for the same common thing. Whether its 12am or 1am and I wanted to go to DC Harold was always ready. Gymming with Andre (Brazilian) and Sifiso (South African) was an amazing experience and I can say I had international trainers. Dzidepo Kofi this Ghanaian guy taught me to play soccer and party hard! How could I forget the beauties of CCI Lekagugu, Joannita, Sandra, Gamze, and Luiza I miss you girls.
img_8105 Praveen and Nabila will have a great importance in my life I’ve learned a lot from you guys. Hope to see you soon.

On my return my friends asked what did you do in states? And what did you brought along with you from states? To which I replied “I lived my life in a year and I brought a promise to see those face again who made my life worth living there”

img_8106

Post written by Akhlaq Khan, CCI participant at NOVA, 2015-2016, India