Tag Archives: Volunteering

Three Months Ago

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.

Lelre with Nora Lopez, Director of Programs and Service at ComputerCore

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.

Lelre with David Drake, ComputerCore lead instructor, and Sundar, CCI participant from India

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.

Around the World Cultural Food Festival & IYLA Global Summit World Bank

Who doesn’t know America? The country that a lot of people want to go to; the dream land. You can feel the vibe of America through their Film industry “Hollywood”, Great musicians and singers, advanced technology and the people are well known for their industrious attitude. When I was little I’d always want to go there, though it was just a dream because I didn’t have money. I didn’t have any family or connection there and most importantly I had no idea what living there was going to be like. November 2017, I saw a link on Facebook about CCI Program, I clicked the link, prepared my papers, got into the selection, followed all the requirements and here I am in United State of America. Through Community College Initiative Program 2018/2019 I have a chance to set my feet in US and study at Northern Virginia Community College without even spending a dime. Yapp…. Dream comes true right??

Besides being a Business Management student at Nova, I have attended amazing events. My first event was at Around the World Cultural Food Festival which was held on August 18, 2018 in Washington DC. Corina and Julio were the event and volunteer coordinators at the event. They came to NOVA to meet all the CCI Program participants and to give us information about this event and how to sign up as volunteers. We got the sheet where we could choose our workstation such as Information desk, Operations, Backstage staff and beer garden. Guess what I signed up for? I signed up for Beer Garden station. To me I imagined being among a bunch of drunkards, but it wasn’t so. My task was to check the ID of the visitors who were entering the beer garden making sure they were above 21 years and then tag them with wristband, no babies were allowed as well. The other task was to make sure the tables and our station is clean. Thus, it was a very wonderful experience because Around the world cultural food festival is a huge event, they occupied the 13th Street Pennsylvania Avenue Freedom plaza and enlivened by 18 food vendors participants, 6 dessert vendors participants and performers from all over the world. Thousands of people visited this event and I was very happy to be there.

CCI volunteers setting up flags.
Volunteering with Sara from Egypt

The second event was International Young Leaders Assembly (IYLA) Global Summit which was held at World Bank in Washington DC on August 10,2018. This event enlightened us about Entrepreneurship and how to be successful in managing your business. I was impressed with this event due to the venue, which was in a tremendous building, made up of enthused young people from all over the world. The speakers were awesome, and the group discussions was innovative, inspiring, and so much fun. The event started at 10 am and ended at 5 pm. I didn’t get bored at all because there were various activities such as keynote session, Questions and Answers with guest speakers, groups discussion, presentations session from each group and one of the speakers sang the song without music. It was very funny because I think he sang the whole song and his voice is below average, in the end, the I clapped my hands so hard for him for having the gut to sing in front of the audience. Anyway, the MC and keynote speakers of IYLA Global Summit were awesome and mind blowing because they are real entrepreneurs and they built their businesses from scratch. Saleema Vellani was the MC and she’s the Co-Founder and World Bank Y2Y Mentorship Co-Chair. The Speakers were Anthony Kim from Heritage Foundation (Editor of Index of Economic Freedom), Caroline Pugh the Founder of Care of Journey, Ahva Sadeghi Co-Founder and CEO of SYMBA and Ravi Social Entrepreneur from Nepal. They shared their experiences in starting their businesses, how to manage and keep the businesses running, how to solve internal and external problems, reaching their profit goals and how to give back to the community. That was a lot to take away.

At IYLA with CCI participants Sara, Aaron, and Schawany

These two are the events in my first month in America and I feel so blessed to have this opportunity. I will not waste my time here, my friends and I have many things we need to learn, explore and experience. We still have many upcoming events and I cannot wait to share another story of CCI Program activities. Stay tuned.

Blog written by Helen Sitaniapessy from Indonesia, a 2018-2019 CCI participant at NOVA-Annandale. 

 

LIFE CHANGING OPPORTUNITY (CCI Program)

Pathways to Success Cultural Night
  1. Volunteer/ Internship
  2. PSP
  3. Host
  4. Improvement/ Achievement.
  5. Action plan

 

 

I have not imagined this few months can change me and my life!

Visiting US was one of dream, then one day I received a call from US Embassy which brought me here and gave me wings to change the world, my eyes were full of tears, that is the CCI Program.

I have spent more than six months in US, and now I am not that old one, I had so challenging situations to come here but these memories and achievements are worth than those situations.

Volunteering

Coming to volunteering, in past I have never volunteered but when I volunteered here it always gives me positive vibes, helping the needy is something which money cannot buy, it brings the humanity, mercy and positivity in individuals.

Internship, working with children is always makes me happy, because I believe todays good children will be tomorrow’s better citizens! I have learnt many strategic ways in teaching and child care. Also learned the ways to work on children positive behavior. This will really help me in my future.

Internship

Oh my god! Coming to the PSP (mid-year retreat) this was the best experience of mine; the journey was unforgotten. In just one week I have learnt a lot and enjoyed too. The workshops taught me leadership skills and today I have a sophisticated personality because of those workshops. I have never traveled back home but I can say travelling teaches us a lot.

Pathways to Success
Pathways to Success Workshop

The CCI Program has given me a best social host ever, she is so kind and lovely, I spent my most of the weekends with her it feels like I am home. We go for lunch, volunteering, traditional events, museums and botanical gardens (luckily me and my host love gardening and plants). we even cook together. It is so worthy and memorable I cannot even forget these moments.

Host Family

I was nothing back home but now I am so Improved, I was so afraid to speak in public, but now have the ability and speak the CCI Program taught me how to be confident, and I have so many achievements which impacted on my life, I learnt to be responsible,

Pajama Party

punctual, honest, hardworking. I even got a certificate for best improved person, I feel so happy I have learnt so much in this few months. One of the biggest achievement is my parents agreed for my higher education even though our community does not allow but I am the one who is studying higher education. I have taken a step towards my community to change it.

I came to this program with a dream (to start a school), but now I have two action plans one is teaching women about safety, ethical values, diversity, English, humanity classes. My first action to make change in the community. And the second is to start a school for special children, underprivileged, single parent children, children that are LGBTQ. Because every CSI class gave me a idea for better development and I am going to implement these ideas and what I have learned here.

A girl whose world was just her house now she is able work for the community to change the world! The CCI Program is giving a reason for living in this world, this program gave me so power and made me strong to face the obstacles in future, my inspiration is mother Teresa and now I can take a step to become a next mother Teresa by public service and for better change!   THANK YOU CCI Program!

Grand Canyon National Park

 

Post written by Anjum Begum, CCI participant at NOVA-Alexandria from India.

Volunteering with Economic Planning Board, Islamabad

What makes you feel good and satisfied in life is the thing which you love to do? It can be anything; sometime, it can be as simple as having a conversation with other people and sharing new ideas or new information to benefit others. To me it is meeting new people and volunteering to bring them at one platform for any specific reason. Bringing something new on the table and getting oneself involved in the activities for the well-being and prosperity of disadvantaged people means a lot to me.

Being born in a very beautiful but very remote area of Pakistan – Hamza, I was exposed to the value of community development through volunteerism from a young age as thousands of youth in area had played and still paying a vital role in uplifting our society. The power of volunteerism especially by youth to bring some semblance of balance in life of people who in need had filled my thoughts since long.

As I began to look beyond my micro universe, it became clear to me that to serve communities better a platform was inevitable and had far-reaching effect on society. I along with my friends, who were also moved by the same cause, joined a forum called Economic Planning Board (EPB) where many young professionals and students come together for a specific reason. Economic Planning board is a platform, led by volunteers, where youth and professionals are brought together so that they can solve the problem and issues faced by our communities and play their role in community development.

We at EPB, through different interventions, benefit our community especially youth not only economically but also socially, physically, and psychologically. These intentions are carried out through different programs which are designed to uplift people fall into different socio-economic status. The major program we work in are as follow.

 

Human Capital

  • Skills Development
  • Vocational Training
  • Job Placement
  • Professional
  • Development

Personal Financial Management

  • Family Budgeting
  •  Retirement Saving Plans
  • Insurance
  • Investment

Business Development Services

  • Entrepreneur / Business Development
  • Business Retention and Expansion
  • Access to Micro Loan / SME Loan
  • Agriculture Inputs/ Technical Support

Alliance and Groups

  • Trade/Business Alliances
  • Professional Associations
  • Networking Groups

These programs are conducted by our volunteers – professionals and students – who work to help and guide those who are embarking to a new chapter of their life. Every year, thousands of community members are supported in one way or another though these interventions. We help them by showing a clear path on which everyone can pursue their careers. The best thing we do is arranging different events for people and bringing them together at one platform in order to bring smiles and happiness in their faces who usually go through hardship and tough life. We also sometimes arrange different trips and hiking’s to encourage them to be closer to the nature and understand the value which they miss in their lives otherwise.

Many of you might not know about and taste a lot the values of community service which makes your life happier and healthier. Joining this group as volunteer was a great idea and has really encouraged me to share the great benefit of volunteerism with people. I have been a member of this forum for last two years. I found it interesting as they are arranging different events, programs, sessions, and many other projects to build a healthy future for our community. People who work here are all volunteers; they volunteer to learn and to make themselves happier.

Post written by Meher Sultana, CCI participant at NOVA-Alexandria 2016-2017, Pakistan

Post edited on November 20, 2017

CCI Volunteering at The Vienna Oktoberfest 2017

Vienna, VA – I, with other CCI fellows, joined a volunteerism activity in Oktoberfest 2017 at 243 Church St NW (10/7). The location was about one hour driving from my home in Alexandria to the festival area in Vienna. Arriving in the location, people had been crowded in every spots in the festival. The festival were placed in several blocks and blocked the street from any traffic, letting people from all over the towns, even out of states, come and enjoy things offered in the festival. There were many things to see: art exhibition, Vienna’s Little Library 120th Anniversary, music concert, Musical Theater Performance, culinary, and, the main destination, beer festival.
All across the street, there were lots of tents erected line by line displaying artistic pieces by the local artists. One exhibition tent that interested me was decorated as Abraham Lincoln all-abouts. Visitors could find T-shirts, cups, flutter flags, name board, and other furniture that had the sign of one of the most influential US Presidents. So far, every place I visited always reflects the spirit of Abraham Lincoln in many forms like statue, furniture, and poster. I can say he is everywhere in US and becomes the spirit of Americans.
Abraham Lincoln Art Exhibition
One of my favorite parts as well as the most special one at the time was the Vienna’s Little Library 120th Anniversary which has served literature needs of the Vienna people since 1897. They were holding book exhibition. I felt so much blessed when I found that I could find and buy my favorite books for only 50 cent for each. Not only old interesting books, there were many other impressive contemporary novels and other books from different genres like psychology, philosophy, history and many more offered with very low price. Besides, they also conducted a special book talk by local writers in the next week which I unluckily could not manage to attend. However I could follow up the event in their social media account. I found that all events are easily accessible through social media.
Beside of the exhibition, there were also music concert and musical theatre that added more options to visit in the Vienna Oktoberfest 2017. In front of the stage, all audiences from the elders to the youngers, all mixed-race Americans were dancing together enjoying songs sang by the musicians whose songs enabled everyone to move from their seat to the stage to join the dance. Other than that, visitors also were able to watch drama theater which was full of musical Disney instrument. The performance was Peter Pan story. It was very impressive and successfully brought all audiences’ mind to the dream land, especially, the children. I could still feel how happy the children watching the drama directly on the stage, instead of their TV Screen.
Peter Pan Musical Theater
I volunteered in handing wristband to the visitors to get the beer by screening their ID card. It was not literally an easy job. The wristband marked them to be over 21 years old as the official requirement for US people to drink alcohol. If any of them below 21 wearing the band was inspected by the police to drink beer, my fellow volunteers and I would be of course responsible. However we managed to complete our works well since nobody was found to be so. It was fun to meet and serve people who were very excited to enjoy their beer. The funny part was when an old men came to ask their wristband and I was insisted to ask for their ID card to make sure he was over 21 years old. He asked, “is it not clearly visible for you that I am old enough for the beer, young man?”. Then I replayed, “as today you just never looked younger than before, Sir,” and we both were laughing. Many people were very pleasant for a conversation and it gave me more chances to directly learn American culture by doing my task as an age screener.
Irics, CCI participant from Indonesia, is giving a wristband to the visitor, marking her as over 21.
Having successfully conducted for ten years in a row, this festival not only purposes as an annual event where people can meet each other in weekend and have fun with exhibitions, concerts, and other entertainments offered, the event also raises money for the local charity that works for homeless, orphan children, and other people in need. Therefore I could meet many local people devoting their time as volunteers to serve the visitors. In that point, I find it as a traditional value of Americans in devoting themselves to serve their community in volunteerism.
Irics, Herman, Natalia, and Camila are posing after working as wristband volunteer
Post written by Muhammad Arham, 2017-2018 participant at NOVA-Annandale from Indonesia

The CCI Cohort Volunteers at the Turkish Festival

The annual Turkish festival for the 2017 fall season was a blast! The Nova CCI cohort was part of this amazing experience. I was designated to the kids tent which was exciting because I love children. The general atmosphere was awesome – there were a lot of people at the festival and I could assume that the most of them were Turkish, even the music that was playing was from turkey. After been at the kids tent I went to help at the coffee tent- I served the best Turkish coffee there is, and how do I know this? The smiles of the people who drank it.

In the kids tent I taught the kids how to make beads and taught them how to paint pictures, the parents of the kids also participated in beads making. One thing that I like about kids is the energy they bring to any situation, they have a unique perspective on how things work. I spent most of my time in the kids tent- I did two shifts with the kids and my last two shift were in the coffee tent. The activities I performed in the coffee tent was to take orders then rush to serve coffee – it was a fun activity since I had never done anything of this nature before.

I started my volunteering from 10:00am until 09:00pm, the day of the festival was on the 23 September 2017. One important thing I learned is that culture is vital and it rests upon the people of that culture to conserve it. The tolerance that is practiced in the United States is astonishing, It is not every country that allows people to bring their own cultures to their countries. If there is one thing that the U.S stands for is self-determination of different people within the American society.

My experience has been great ever since I came to America. I have cherished the ideals that make the country tick. Every heartbeat of America is supported by volunteers and had working individuals who are truly patriotic.

CCI Student Vuyani Maduna, from South Africa, volunteering at the Turkish Festival.

 

Post written by Anjum Begum, 2017-2018 participant at NOVA-Alexandria from India

Reflecting on the Experiential Learning & Volunteer Fair

As I always says, my experience in this program is beyond my expectation because my experience is greater than and beyond my imagination. But if I want to categorize my experiences, the greatest of it all was the experiential learning and  volunteer fair. This was organize by CCI coordinators for we the participants to get the opportunity to meet business organizations to seek internships and volunteer opportunities.

This gave me a chance to meet the various representatives to introduced my self and shared my experience on the working field to them. I also represented my resume to them to check my track records and to know my education level and also my specific course of study. The first person I met, I was little nervous and pressure so I couldn’t express myself to my fullest satisfaction but as I moved on, all the tension and the fear in me vanished and I was able to impress them. And as a marketer, our greatest asset in communication skills and interpersonal relationships that will make you to attract and persuade customers to buy your products. It was amazing for me because it gave me that opportunity to talked to business and I can now present myself before companies to seek for internships and volunteer opportunities. There is no word I Patrick can use to describe CCI Program because the impacts that this program has made just two months in my life is magnificent and I want to take this opportunity to thank my coordinators for the marvelous works they have being doing for us. We are so grateful.

Post written by Patrick  Asampana, 2017-2018 CCI participant at NOVA-Annandale from Ghana

Share the Love

Sharing is caring. CCI Program has given me the opportunity to experience this beautiful phrase through volunteering. I have witnessed how American loves to give back to the community and to help those in need. There are people who are willing to sacrifice their time, energy, mind, and even money to put smiles on somebody’s else face.

As CCI participant we are required to do minimum 125 hours of volunteering, therefore I and some friends signed up to help Alexandria Dept. of Community and Human Services last year, December 11th-14th, distributing Christmas presents for low-income families.

I was amazed of the number of presents were delivered to the office. There were literally more than 1000 boxes and bags filled up with things. I and some other volunteers were marking and counting the presents, we put them in different sections based on their numbers to make it easy for us to find them when the listed families came to take them the next few days. More and more presents were delivered each day by those who signed up as donors. Little children came with their parents holding small boxes they had helped wrapping to be given to people they never even met before. There were new and beautiful bicycles coming in ready to be taken away to make other small children happy, Christmas trees and its ornaments to lighten up some more houses, jackets and gloves to warm some more people during winter, and many other things.

The fact that the donors didn’t even know the people they have been assigned to help personally but still they joyfully spent their time, energy, and money to brighten up those people’s holidays just really touched my heart. The donors simply registered through the office’s website, then they were given lists of families they could choose to help. Some of them even did more than one families. They received lists of things the family needed and then they started shopping, wrapping and delivering them to the office. Later on, the families came to the office to take them. We as the volunteers helped around to carry the things out for the families and to load them into their cars. I really enjoyed the work I did during those four days since I was able to witness the joy expressed on those people’s faces especially the children when they got new bikes or other cool stuffs. Even the donors came in happily with bags and boxes knowing that some people would have merrier Christmas or happier holidays time this year.


Volunteering has been a great learning process for me and also an eye opener of how much an individual or group of people can do to make better life for everybody else. What you do matters, you can choose to either put sulk or smile on other’s face. For me a smile it is.

Post written by Picessylia Anakay, CCI participant at NOVA 2016-2017, Indonesia

Life is not a race, but a journey

Life is not a race, but a journey. Make each second of your life worth it.

This is something I learnt during the CCI Program’s retreat. A retreat which helped us focus on the reason why we came to the USA, we, the participants from different countries.

CCI NOVA during Pathways to Success Program

Before coming to this retreat, I was focused on my classes, volunteering, and internship. However, I couldn’t think much further, neither what I will be doing after my CCI Program. Certainly, I will be going back to my life, but I don’t want to become the same after this program.

Being able to use each second of my life to make a better place.

Through this program, I have noticed, I have learned, that the more you give a deeper thinking about each topic, you get to know that these topics are related, linked, and connected to one another. They are like our body. If one single part is not well, all rest of the members are also sick.

Let’s keep in mind that our common goal is to make our world a better place. For that, we need to be together, think together, talk together, share ideas, listen, and understand. We just need to believe in ourselves, so that we can reach the top of the mountain. Let’s believe that we are this little bit of rope that can sustain our world.

Post written by Adjoke Therese Babalola, CCI Participant at NOVA 2016-2017, Côte d’Ivoire