Tag Archives: Washington DC

Three Months

Three Months… Wow… It’s incredible how time flies… There are no words that can explain how I feel at this moment. It seems like I arrived yesterday at an airport of a foreign country, I was really nervous and just thinking “this is the moment to show how good my English is” I still remember how scared I was, it is my first time out of my country and I was alone.

When I arrived to my final destination, Virginia, and I saw Kate with a big smile waiting for me at the airport, it was so heartwarming. It made me feel so good, I start realizing that I was about to start a new life, I still remember that I was amazed, it was like a dream, I was feeling a mixture of inexplicable feelings. Then the first two people I met on the program arrived, Mamello and Vuyani… Wow… It was something crazy, although they were coming from a really long fly, they were smiling, and was as happy as usual. They greeted me as if we have been friends for a long time while we haven’t even talk before; that was the same with all the other CCI participants, they all received me with a smile that makes me feeling at ease. They showed me that I came to my new home.

First Day at the Airport in USA

Now it´s been three months… Three months full of wonderful experiences, where I have learned to appreciate the smallest details of every day. Thanks to all the volunteer activities I have done, I know how good you can feel when you do something good for someone else without waiting for something back. Definitely a warm smile can make you totally change your mood. I have also enjoyed the tours and the tourism around the DC area. The places are so amazing; seeing all those places makes me realizing that there is much more to see, to know, to discover…The world is big and the life is too short, our stay in United States as well yet sometimes we are losing time staying in our beds while we should go out and discover and learn new things. By doing so we will be well immerse in the US culture. It will also be an occasion for us to share ours the others. We must give the importance that Time have. We have some objectives here, if we don’t move on we will never reach our goals. Opportunities are around us and we need to find them.

It is pretty cool to know more about American culture and their history. I’m learning a lot about Americans, it is really nice to see how proud they are of their country and their culture and we can notice it with all those places we visited such as the capitol and the Senate. There are no word that can describe those buildings they are just marvelous; the art printed on the walls and the roofs is just incredible almost like magic, it is incredible how much they can transmit. Those buildings are just awesome! Another wonderful place is the Mount Vernon far from all civilization and monuments that we are now discovering, it relates the history of George Washington’s family and house which is pretty cool and interesting. I definitely enjoyed the landscape, the Potomac river with all those threes changing their colors and the sun shining in the sky it was just like a perfect painting. So relaxing it is incredible how this place can transmit a feeling of peace.

George Washington’s Mt. Vernon

My experience on the program is wonderful so far, it teaches me how to appreciate little things I have and previously overlooked, because today I’m not the same person I was yesterday; I’m sure I am not the same I will be tomorrow, this experience is teaching me to be more open minded, to go beyond prejudices and not to judge without knowing first. CCI teaches me that family is not just blood and even though we are so different we will always have a common thing, after all, before being from different countries, with different cultures, first, we are humans and we are from the world and now we are a family, because despite differences, discussions and cultural shocks, when someone needs something everyone is there, as the family now we are, because CCI teach us that everything goes beyond a culture, a religion or a skin color, we are all people who dream, and we are here following our dreams and that is what put us together, what make us stronger, because we are many but at the same time we are just one.

NOVA Alexandria and Annandale 2017-2018 CCI Cohorts

Three months may look like is not too much time, however it is a lot when I look back. I can notice how much we have experienced and lived during these few months, and it’s now that I can understand the real value of time. We are walking a path full of learning, it’s like that I can describe CCI, a path of learning, where we not only just grow as professionals but also as persons, because every day is a new step, a different adventure, a new world, and in each world, there is something new to learn, something new to discover.

Written by Camila Colorado Garcia, 2017-2018 NOVA Alexandria Participant

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

We

So here we are! In United States of America! We are from 12 different countries, 32 different individuals, 32 different thoughts came through 1 same program. Yes, we know we are very diverse. We concur we argue; we lose we dream.

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First week at Lake Accotink Park, photo by Moises Gomez

All of us who made it here it was not easy for us to be here. We had gone through a lot in our life or in the past. Some are told some are untold. And some of our story will make you stop breathing! But we are strong, open minded and very much optimistic.  Perhaps the one quality we all have in common is we have the power of adaptability to accept the change. We are adorning our present and future instead of holding the past.

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First trip to Washington, DC

We remember the day we met in July 2016. Some of us traveled for 5 hours and some of us traveled for 45 hours! Physically we felt like we are dying but our hearts on that time were flying beyond the sky! The first day we introduce with each other was through icebreakers game at Annandale campus and what we didn’t realize at that time is the icebreakers was actually started to break the ice of our heart which had shadow of confusion about each other’s culture. Since that day we have started our journey of friendship. CSI class, International Youth Leadership Assembly, U.S Capitol Building, Library of Congress, National Monument, Scavenger Hunt, Great Falls, United Nations’ HeForShe panel discussion, birthday celebration, Accotink park, baseball game, ghost and graveyard tour, ice hockey, pumpkin picking at Cox Farms and so many places we visited together in those four months. Besides we are taking our classes, searching for our internship, volunteering, doing homework, preparing for test, presentations, having sleepless night for group project and working on our action plan. We know it sounds like crazy busy schedule but trust us, every bit of it is worthy.  Maybe the country we are from is one of the least developed country in the world but the potentiality we have is one of the best in the world. So we know how to manage our stress in the workload and that’s why we were chosen.

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Meeting with Mark Sweeney, Legislative Corespondent for Senator Mark Warner

It’s true that in the writing there is so many of we and so many of togetherness but we believe “If you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far go together”

Post written by Pew Chowdhury, CCI Participant at NOVA 2016-2017, Bangladesh