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.
Post written by Roseline Kekeli Odzor from Ghana , a 2018-2019 CCI participant at NOVA-Annandale.
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.
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.
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.
Post written by Valentina Asempah from Ghana, a 2018-2018 CCI participant at NOVA-Alexandria.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The reminisced of getting final selection for CCI Program always fascinated me. Before getting final selection of CCI Program, I always saw the ramble of my dreams besotted with immense tranquility. I can clearly remember the day when I got a congratulations mail from American Center, Bangladesh about the final selection of this Program. I can explain about how to go forward for catching up a dream but it is quite impossible to explain of my feelings of during that moment. All I can say is that my aim and dream were shaking hand and walking on the same road. After saying good bye to my parents & well wishers, I started my journey to the United States. How easy to say by words but by feelings it is really polar opposite. However, getting finally selection wasn’t easy for me. It was as tough as my first few weeks after arrival in United States. Immediately after landing it seems like I am a single small drop in this extensive world. Whatever, I got the solution of my silly imagination when I saw a beautiful lady waiting for me in the waiting area of airport and said welcome to the United States with her smile. Yes, she is my coordinator Kelly Forbes. What metaphor should I put for her I don’t know but she is the hope on the horizon.
Needless to say, there are lot of new experience are waiting for me. My Coordinator brought me in the apartment. Everything was fine. But I started introducing with the word CHALLENGE when I felt hungry. This was because; I didn’t know how to cook. It was really hard time for me. Whatever, the repercussion of the challenge was tremendous. In a few weeks, I learned how to cook by the helping of my apartment mates and my willingness. Now I can proudly say that I am a good cook. I can survive anywhere in this world. Eventually, I am facing lot of small and big challenges and trying to acclimatize with this new lovely environment.
Every challenge what I’m facing teach me that everything in this world happens for a reason. Every single thing in this world is valuable. Even it can be a small failure step. CCI Program is helping me to learn something new, to experience something new, and to do something new for making a better world for living. In CCI Program every participant is meritorious and talented. Everyone is doing awesome job. Everyone is the future leader. Staying and living with future leaders always makes people productive.
Moreover, besides studying I’m participating lot of conferences, team work and Volunteering. It’s making my life more productive. It has been more than two months in the United States and I’m hardly trying to find the answer of a simple question that can’t I do anything for this habitable world? I don’t want to get lost from this earth before making a positive impact in my community, before bringing a little change in my community, and before bringing a step ahead my community. I don’t know will I get this beautiful time back again or not but I want to go beyond and beyond by keeping the sweet memory of CCI Program. I want to hear the sweet melodies of these words “CCI Program Exchange our World” Thousand million time.
Blog written by Zulfikar Belal from Bangladesh, a 2018-2019 CCI participant at NOVA-Annandale.
I remember the day I was finally in the Pre-Departure Orientation Process at the US Embassy in the Dominican Republic, I was feeling anxious, excited and even afraid of what was about to happen. I knew that, in just a few days my life was about to change in such a positive and more productive way, and if you add the fact that it takes 5 months to complete the whole process and be selected for the CCI Program, I’d say that not even believing that you were awarded the opportunity to study abroad for 10 months, seemed like a very normal feeling.
When I landed at the Washington Dulles everything was just as expected, I met Kate Burkett, the program coordinator for NOVA Alexandria Campus, and the others CCI cohorts, and from that moment on I’ve been feeling nothing but joy, gratefulness and an immense desire to get as much knowledge as I can not only in my field of study but also about the American culture and my CCI friends cultures as well.
One thing that made an impression on me was that my first week in the United States happened to be my very first travel outside of my country but to my surprise, they were many others participants going through the same experience, so with the help of my program coordinator at NOVA Annandale, Mrs. Kelly Forbes and Ms. Kate Burkett from Alexandria, we quickly started to get set up into our new life; meeting our apartment mates, getting to know the cultural similarities and differences that we have and taking our first steps into the Community College Initiative Program with the Gateway to Success Program.
So far, I’ve been in the states for three weeks, but the things I’ve learned in this short time makes it feel like it has been months. Such as cultural diversity, cohabit with people that are not you’re family or your lifetime friends, but somehow are becoming the first thing you think when someone mention home and how not to stand out how gently and helpful Americans have been with all of us during this process of getting used to a new system. Once again, I confirm that there must be opportunities like this for people like me and whoever is reading this in order to help us grow and realize of the power and impact that we all have in life and most important in our society. Thank you to the US Department of State, the Community College Consortium and The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for taking a chance on us and believing in young people as the future of our nations.
I’m looking forward to all the opportunities that this year may bring.
Post written by Marlin Chabely Estevez Leon, 2018-2019 CCI Participant at NOVA-Annandale from the Dominican Republic
When I heard that I was selected for the Community College Initiative Program and that I was going in USA, I knew that I earned a big opportunity to improve myself, to discover new things and to have a good and solid practical knowledge.
I started preparing my mind in my home country. I was trying to picture how life would be like to live, study, and work (internship) in an American community. Of course I knew everything would be different from everything I experienced before. Yet I could not imagine accurately. I am saying so because my imagination was not close to what I am currently living here.
I would write for years without finishing telling about my experience in USA. So I will just focus for now on my first semester in an American school.
Studying at Northern Virginia Community College is awesome and I enjoy a lot. However even if NOVA taught me a lot I think it is because of the American school system in general, not just NOVA. The American school system is wonderful and that foster the educational system.
I started School at NOVA in August 2017. All my classes were very good and I had awesome teachers but this is not my concern for now. The experience that amazed me started with my public relations classes, with Dr. Melvin Murphy, two weeks after the start of the fall semester. This class was not really different from the scenario of other classes but had something special. The class was highly interactive and we were working on a real project. Yes ! We had a real client and we had to do a professional work that would be implemented by the NOVA Print Service (our client). By the end of the semester we would have present a complete public relations plan aiming at improving the visibility of the NOVA print services.
Designing a real and complete PR plan for the Print service was an awesome project to work on, however it implied a lot of work. I have to confess that some of us doubted about the feasibility of that PR plan (me included 🙂 ). It was the first time a real project for a real client was assigned to a class starting a topic, like us beginning public relations. We knew it wouldn’t be easy but we kept faith and start working hard. With the assistance of Dr. Murphy, we made three groups named as follow: Strategy, Media and implementation. Then we were working with a wonderful graphic designer (Miranda Galas), from another class, and a good photographer (Troy Mauricio) in the implementation team (My team).
We thus broke down the job and start working hard. We were doing both at the same time, I mean normal classes and our special project afterward. That class was challenging because we had to learn the theories fast during class sessions so that we could have enough time to break down into groups and work on the project. Like we were implementing in groups what we were learning during class sessions it was complementary and easy to assimilate for us.
We shared tasks in groups and little by little we built our artwork. This experience also changed my view about group works. It was well coordinated and team members were responsible. We respected the deadlines and requirements. Professor Murphy was checking on us really often. He wanted to make sure we weren’t too stressed out and that we are doing the right job.
At the end of the semester we retuned the final job to the print services, after Dr. Murphy approves. We start getting ready for the presentation in front of the client and some staff members. The final PR plan has been printed, for all the attendees, by the print services. We were stressing out the day of the final presentation but we presented well and they appreciated a lot. We finally made it successful. Yeah ! We did it, we had the recognition of the school and the CCI Program.
Today, after having this amazing opportunity to work on such a project, I feel like I acquired a ready to use theoretical and practical knowledge. This knowledge is one of the reason that gave me an Internship at George Mason University. A job in which I have the opportunity to keep doing what I like and to practice more and more in a professional environment with professionals. I am ready to impact, to learn and to teach as well.
The CCI program is not a trip or a vacation it is a new life ! I can’t be more grateful.
Post written by Liaden Hermann Ake, CCI Participant at NOVA-Annandale from Côte d’Ivoire.
Student Life at NOVA is building a community of leaders and inspiring the growth of the whole student by facilitating co-curricular programs that support civic engagement, leadership development, diversity, education, community involvement, and personal empowerment as retention effort.
The conference came on at Loudoun Campus which presentation were selected based on the following student learning outcomes. During the conference, I had opportunity to attend the following presentation: Here is my story, What is yours by Alicia Edwards, Adjunct Faculty, Annandale Campus. Secondly, Mindset & Leadership; Getting out of the Box by Rachelle Thompson, Financial Stability Program Coordinator, NOVA. Again, Leaders Are Overrated; Leadership Misunderstood by Lucy Holsonbake, Faculty Liberal Arts and lastly, I attended Agree to Disagree: How to Move Forward by Vanessa Diaz, Director of Academic Success & Student Engagement.
The experience I had in the conference are numerous but some of them are; gained insight into leadership, diversity, and inclusion efforts by identify leadership characteristics to inform how to lead self and others, to compile best practices to use in creating inclusive communities and Understand the multiple dimensions of diversity and how our background and related experiences inform our role within the NOVA community.
Thanks to our coordinators Kelly and Kate for making us participated in this wonderful event. I am so grateful.
Post written by Patrick Asampana, CCI participant at NOVA-Annandale from Ghana.
It is incredible how this experience has made me a whole new person. There is no way to put into words what I am feeling now. Three months ago, I realized that I was lost in myself. I felt that I did not know who I was. I felt that a part of me was dying, but that little part was just dying to be born again. I cannot be more grateful for this challenging moment. It has not only made me grow a lot as a human being but also made me understand how important it is to challenge myself to overcome every stage of my life.
When I came here, I knew I wanted to challenge myself, but I did not imagine how hard it was going to be. Although I have always been passionate about my dreams, there was a time when I just did not know how valuable they are. Since I lost my confidence, I did not know how to express my ideas. So, I felt that I did not belong here because I was not good enough for this program. It was really frustrating to feel that I was not able to do what I wanted to do. As a consequence of these issues and other personal problems, I became depressed. Nevertheless, having one of my worst moments I realized how important is not only to appreciate difficult times but also to die in each stage of your life. On first thought, it does not make sense, but let me explain to you the big meaning that it has for me. I strongly believe that life is made of cycles. Each cycle of our life is a stage that we should live to learn from it; however, we should also die to be born again. We will have learned a lot, but we will also need to keep going without look back.
In other words, that challenging moment not only made me born again but also changed the perspective of my life. I learned that my dreams are as valuable as I want them to be. I learned that I am important for my community and that I may cause a significant change if share all the things that I have learned until today. Now I know that nothing is impossible and that I am the only one who can strongly believe in her dreams to make them come true. Being involved in CCI program change my life. This is a stage of learning for my life and I really appreciate it. All the CCI cohort has taught me to be confident about my dreams and that I am not alone when it comes to making a positive change in the world.
Post written by Natalia Martínez Conde, CCI participant at NOVA-Alexandria from Colombia