Tag Archives: South Africa

CCI VISITS THE SENATE BUILDING AND THE U.S CAPITOL

The NOVA CCI cohort visited the senate building and the U.S capitol and the 09/28/2017 a day many would cherish forever. The visit was spectacular in a sense that we got to learn about the U.S history while at the same time exploring the architectural beauty of the American sit of government. We got to see the dome of the capitol from the inside and it was a sight to behold. To every American the capitol represents liberty which is the concept that the United States was founded on, but one point that stood out for me as the author of this piece is that even though liberty was debated in the building, it was built by the struggle and sweat of enslaved African-American. It is a building that has shaped the history of America and represents the achievements and failures of United States American while at the same time protecting the democracy of the country and the freedom of the American citizens.

The day started with the visit to the senator of Virginia Mr. Kaine who was not present and we met his Legislative Coorespondents that listened to our stories regarding our experience about America. It was a healthy exercise as far as I am concerned – we gave out stories about America from a foreign perspective which is flawed for everything we said about America we were comparing it to our countries and somehow we bashed our own nations and propelled America into a podium of perfection. This perspective is I believe very superficial and it is dangerous for it hides the problems and challenges that America is confronted with. Foreigners should be as honest and as sincere about the experiences they have in America as possible. I am not judging anyone’s analysis and experience of America, I am only challenging the sugar-coating the takes place when foreigners talk about their experiences. I understand some believe in the expression that says do not bite the hand that feeds you.  But these individuals fail to realize if you do not bite the hand, you might not get to receive better food than what you are receiving.

CCI Participant Rudolf from Ghana

After we bought our lunch at the senate building we went to the capitol building. The most spectacular building in Washington, DC. It stands supreme with its pure white color as there is no building that is taller than it in DC. It is an iconic and historic building and to know more about it you have to get inside. There is a wealth of knowledge inside the capitol and it preserves history – history is preserved in lime stone and bronze inside the capitol – Jackson, Regan, Martin Luther king and many more American historic leaders. The capitol has captured every essence of America and it stands proud and tall as it is the furnace that keeps the democracy of the United States and the liberty of its citizen boiling in comfort. The U.S capitol is the freedom building of the nation and it has ensured the descendants of African-America slaves who provided free labor in the construction of the buildings and the descendants of the White Masters to live in harmony without the oppression of one another.

Inside the building there is the library of congress, it houses research papers that are very rare and it also houses the books that belonged to the founding fathers of America. The painting on the ceiling is very captivating. Every effort has been taken to ensure that the history of each president and senators who have served with high distinction is preserved and their stories be told to all who care to listen. For the CCI participants the visit was more than seeing the statues of died white men but it was about seeing the building that runs the affairs of America – the building that is more prestigious that the white house if one also takes in consideration what is happening with the current president of the United States.

Vuyani in front of the Supreme Court

What I learned from the visit is that freedom is not given it is demanded and the one who has the highest moral position no matter how weak he/she is they will prevail. That’s why the confederate lost the war and union won during the American civil war and while the U.S capitol was nearing its final construction phase.

Post written by Vuyani Maduna, 2017-2018 participant at NOVA-Alexandria from South Africa

CCI NOVA Participates at the IYLA 2017, Washington, DC

August is the international youth month and on the 12th ,  the world bank group hosted young people from across the world to commemorate the international youth day at their headquarters in Washington, DC. The umbrella of the commemoration was the International Young Leaders Assembly(IYLA) 2017- which according to John Dickson, Chairman, Global Young Leaders Academy, took a long time to organize. The assembly was all about finding solutions to problems that plague young people and also to discuss some of the challenges that stagnate youth development. It was wonderful to see young adults and youngsters deliberating on issues of national and global importance. There were two sessions on the day – the service session and the entrepreneur session – before the commencement of the sessions, Daniel Pierini, Alternate Executive Director for Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, World Bank delivered a keynote address which centered around the impact that young people have in the world and what role they have in policy creation.

For the service session, there was a distinguished panel of Political leaders, ambassadors (former and current) and development experts. They all shared what they are involved in and how they impacted the communities they are involved with. Koby J. Langley, Senior vice president, Service to the Armed Force & International Humanitarian Law, American Red Cross, shared a story about his involvement in the Iraqi war – He was brought in as a young law expert, his duty was to ensure that the soldiers even though they are in war they respect human life and abide by the Laws of War. He indicated that at one point there would go on for three months without taking a bath, the conditions were tough and hard but one thing kept him and everyone going, the gifts and messages they received from the American people, one moment that prompted him to have a new definition for leadership was when he got a box of crushed Oreos and a broken toothbrush, He thought for a moment about his gifts and pictured the people who might have sent these wonderful essentials, which are in most cases trivial items, but in war they are highly important – at that moment he figured that Maybe leadership is about love and compassion, for he was convinced that the Unknown Americans who sent them gifts were doing that because of love and compassion. He said that made him to work even hard to protect human life in the war-torn Iraq.

 

I would like to share everyone’s story unfortunately I can’t, I will need to write a book to do that. Another story that I think is worth sharing is from Navya Maitri Konda, Co-Founder & President, GOAL; Stanford University, – who was visiting India at one time – she visited a center that offered learners to study and to do their homework after school. She felt happy that such a center was available to all the children in the community. One night the lights went off and the kids started to pack their books and left, she got hold of one of the children and asked why they are leaving to which he replied, “The power outages happen all the time and we don’t know when the power might be restored it can go on for days”. Hearing this she was perplexed, she came back to the United States and she started to look for solutions – she talked to colleagues, consulted professors and energy experts so that she can eliminate the problem that has the potential of ruining a good initiative and destroying the future of the children. She got the help needed and they erected solar powerlines for this particular study center. Her talk on leadership is that you do not need to be directly affected by a problem before you could find a solution to it, if it is affecting somebody and you have the means to solve it, get on it. She believes leadership is solving problems even though they have nothing to do with you.

There were closing remarks for the first session from the member of parliament in Uganda, Hon. Babirye Sarah Kityo Breeze. Her address was tailored for leaders in government. She stressed the need for young leaders in world governments so that young people’s voices can be heard in high level of power so that they can be tackled effectively. She mentioned a fact that got her applause – 60% of the members of parliament in Uganda are young women. Which is higher that any other country in the world.

The second session moved very quick and the panel was comprised of young and old entrepreneurs. They all shared stories about their businesses and how they got them to be successful. What I learned from them was that you will never be successful in business if you do not take risks and make necessary sacrifices. “To be an entrepreneur is not something you wish for, it is something that you live – it becomes a part of you”. Wise words from one of the panelists. They also had a special advice for NGOs – “it is important for NGOs to not rely only on donations, they should really think of developing their own product that can generate income to fund some of their initiatives “, said Robert Dowling founder, PennDPC; co-Founder, repurpose.

 

As young people, we are agents of change but we seem not to understand what that means. We are still hiding in the shadows. The young leader assembly was successful and most issues were discussed and the solutions were diverse, but they lacked scientific reasoning. After the two sessions were concluded there was a group discussion of about 17 core issues that are common to all the countries of the world – sustainable energy, infrastructure development, childcare, and all the way to climate change. The solutions from young were all social solutions but none of them were scientific even on issues that required science and technology. That troubled me – it means this generation lacks a holistic view of what is happening around them – some even narrowed their solutions to political rhetoric that lacks facts.

As the CCI cohort from NOVA we learned a lot from the panel that was invited to the Assembly but we learned nothing from our peers, the same cannot be said about the CCI cohort. We participated in every discussion and contributed greatly in those discussions, but scientific reasoning was still missing.

Post written by Vuyani Maduna, 2017-2018 participant at NOVA-Alexandria from South Africa

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

Hello! Hello… Hello?

When I first landed in the United States I was over the moon, like swimming in a warm lagoon, with expectations that could fill a room! A rhyme was necessary to proper show my excitement. Here I was, for one, I assumed I would easily assimilate with America because I had consumed American culture for, what seems like my entire life, through television, music and movies so I anticipated very few surprises; but as I have learned assumptions are not truth. I had created an amazing, grand image of the USA encouraged by movies and other mass media, then when this image and expectations were not met… it was a shock to the system.

One of the difficult shocks I dealt with is the way Americans communicate, particularly greeting. Where I come from, South Africa, acknowledging another person is important through verbal greeting or any type of salute, what I found here is that this verbal acknowledgment is replaced by some gesture, like a quick-to-fade smile or a head nod and that is only when they even decide to acknowledge you at all.

hello-there

Now, it has been difficult for me not to attribute this to some sort of moral degeneration in the USA or how very wrong it is not to acknowledge others properly instead I have been forced to recognise that it is just a difference in communication, a stark one though.

I had been bouncing in and out of this American form of communication for the past three months, where I would acknowledge and greet people, get so frustrated when this is not reciprocated that I’d stop trying. Then of course I would feel like a terrible person, return to my South African way of greeting, get very little back… and so it goes. But I made a decision to stay true to myself, and fortunately more and more people are catching on and saying Hello.

Post written by Lerato Mahloko CCI participant at NOVA, South Africa

Time Creates Relationships

Nothing can heal the wounds of time.  When global strangers
meet for the first time, it is impossible to quantify the depths of relationships that would soon develop.

Although the following few months these strangers ssifiso-blog-3pend with each other can be dubbed as great times, they are faced with unceremoniously relinquishing the bond that each has developed.

The Community College Initiative (CCI) was an opportunity for me to meet students from different parts of the globe and take part in a culture exchange to create awareness/consciousness about South Africa and our standard of living while learning of cultures outside mine.

The time we were to spend in America seemed immense in the beginning; many of us took longer than others to adjust to being away from family and doing things on our own. This was a challenging transitions that required great patience and understanding.

sifiso-fransis

 Fransis and Yeison had become my new family and our apartment had become my new home. All three of us were bringing different experiences, cultures, customs, religions and ways of life into one house. Like any family, we had our problems but always found a way around them.


friends-for-sifiso-post
Time had brought a lot of us closer than we had anticipated. We always celebrated each other’s victories and achievements; encouraged and gave each other a shoulder to cry on when things got overwhelming. We became each other’s biggest fans and sometimes worst critics.

 sifiso-blog-1Like most people in the program I had pockets of homesickness; for the most part it felt as though the closer we edge to our departure date the more excited and anxious we became. Our last month was perhaps the most ‘confusing’ emotively. I was excited about going home to my family and friends in South Africa but also saddened by the reality of having to leave my family and friends in the United States of America.

The CCI-NOVA participants had become family; a home away from home and for the duration of the program they were all I had. The day we had to separate and all head back to our respective countries was perhaps sadder than the day I had to say goodbye to family and friends when I was coming to the USA.sifiso-blog-2

Perhaps we were overwhelmed by the spatiotemporal limitations and having to readjust to not seeing each other as often as we were. Fortunately for us, we live in the age of technology where communication isn’t restricted to people in the same country or area anymore.

It is a pleasure to have met each and every person in the program; It is an honour to have shared and learnt from your advise, wisdom and sometimes encouragement to just “relax and take it easy”

I trust that time has strengthened our bonds to overcome the Kilometres that stand between us. I still maintain that we all have what it takes to change and shape the world to the kind of society we envision for ourselves and future generations.

 We are the ones we’ve been waiting for…

2015-16-group-for-sifisos-post

Post written by  Sifiso Ngobeni, CCI participant at NOVA 2015-2016, South Africa

The Desirable Hunger

img_1742We are in the same program, boarded planes from all ends of the world to one common ground – Alexandria, VA. The mission of the program is to exchange cultures and create mutual understanding, but will that happen in the same order for all of us and will we fulfill that mission? Well, we all wrote seven long essays of why we deserved this opportunity over other applicants, but is that what won us the spot in this program? Hunger won. Our hunger to bring change into our communities gave us this opportunity, our hunger to further our studies won us this standing and our hunger to be better than we were when we wrote those essays, went to those interviews and writing those English tests made us deserving.

I’ve spent the last two and half months going to school, learning my way around this town, and the biggest thing I’ve realized here is that my hunger gets bigger and stronger by the day. Each morning I lay awake before my shower just thinking of all the things I will plant back into my community when  I go home; but then I stop myself because I don’t want to miss the joys of the present situation while forecasting. Hunger does that, it makes you yearn for the food you yet haven’t finished preparing but you can already smell it and get goose-bums at the thought.

img_1740

My hunger is pushing me out of my comfort zone and challenges me to think of bigger things that I know I wouldn’t have, had I let this opportunity pass me by. Let your hunger be a desirable one that encourages you to do good academically,  that allows you to experience life in Alexandria and let it drive you not to the grocery store only, but to places where your intelligence and capabilities will plant seeds of progress and humanity. We are not only here to further our studies, eat a lot of food, buy Apple gadgets or to travel around America or even to catch the accent- we are here to leave a print, a remarkable print. My hunger is my muse, what is your hunger?

img_1739

Post written by Millicent Mabotha, CCI Participant at NOVA 2016-2017, South Africa

The Girls Govern Town Hall Conference

 aa47c87d-fcb1-4ef8-8ada-4e377425e103
On the 14th of September 2016 I attended the Girls Govern Town Hall conference at George Washington University. The #GirlsGovern Town Hall conference concentrated on giving young ladies an opportunity to debate and discuss issues that matter to their generation while also inspiring and uplifting one another. It provided girls with an opportunity to act as moderators under the guidance of professional journalists, and up-and-coming young women in media and politics.

Attending this showed me the importance of uplifting each other as females instead of breaking one another down. My fellow attendees and I were embraced by the presence of ladies who are not afraid of rising up to challenge and and taking up leadership roles. Hearing a young 13 year tell us her story of how she gained the confidence to say enough is enough, and how she learned that she has the ability and skills to lead others successfully was refreshing and amazing.

img_2203

We were also embraced by the presence of the Ashlee Wilson Hawn, the founder and CEO of Red Cycle and Boss Babe Body. She started her organization which aims to supply young ladies with free sanitary pads; when she was down and out. I was amazed to see that the sanitary pad struggle is not only in my country South Africa, but that it’s an international crisis. The ladies speech inspires me to want to do more for ladies of my generation and by doing that I also will be inspiring other to help more and be more involved.

One of my favourite speakers of the day was Allyson Carpenter, an AAUW Alum/ Student Body President (D.C Elected Office)  from Howard University. She was my favorite because she explained how she ran for the Student Body President at Howard University while she was studying abroad at the UK (United Kingdom) on a scholarship. She mentioned how she used to hide behind her male friends by pushing them to lead while she would operate in the background and coach them because she didn’t believe that a woman’s place is in the front line.

Attending the conference has opened my eyes to so many things. It inspires me to take the lead and make a difference. If I don’t say enough is enough and do something about the lack of female leaders in my industry and community, I will be saying to my siblings and all the other ladies that it’s okay to hide behind a man.

It’s time to take a stand.

Post written by Kgaogelo Mbewe, CCI participant at NOVA, 2016-2017, South Africa