Tag Archives: Women

An Open Letter to All CCI Alumni

Hey everyone, this is Marlin Estevez, a CCI Alumni from the Dominican Republic. I was part of the 2018-2019 generation of the CCI Program. Today, I am writing an open letter to every CCI Alumni across the world, because I feel there are some issues that needs to be addressed.

Although, I’ve been wanting to write this letter since the first week back in my country, I wanted to make sure I gave myself enough time to experience the whole cultural shock, so that I can be more objective and write something that bring value to your life and this new path you are taking now that you are back in your country of origin.

Here’s what this is about:   CCI you are a seed, you will blossom not matter the place or the circumstances.

It has come to my attention that some of my CCI friends and myself included have experience what it’s like to feel that you don’t belong anywhere once you return to your country. You get to miss your friends like never before, even the ones you didn’t spend much time with, but somehow everyone became part of your family.

CCI Cohorts and Lieutenant John Weinstein from 2018-2019 at the beginning of their year.

You also have a hard time defining thing like Happiness and home. On top of that, you struggle with readjusting to how thing work in your country, the things that aren’t that well accepted in your society, the lack of tolerance or respect towards everyone’s right to choose how they live their life, make decisions and what they stand for.

Sometimes (and I am going to be realistic here) you even wonder if you should settle and act like everyone else (been there done that), so that you don’t feel pressured because you think, and perceive life different than everyone else.

CCI Participants with Sarah Yirenkyi and Kelly Forbes during Spring Break

Here’s my point, that happens to you, because YOU ARE DIFFERENT. You experienced almost a year in a society that taught you to be independent, bold, to set clear goals and make sacrifices to achieve them. You proved yourself what you are capable of. You let go of fears, insecurities, a fixed mindset, assumptions and everything that was keeping you down.

I am not saying being back is going to be easy, I am just reminding you how capable you are of achieving anything you set your mind to. Don’t settle, don’t give up and don’t you dare to forget how special you are. And if you do, remember you were chosen among many other people around the world to be part of a program such as the Community College Initiative Program, which means, everyone involved in taking that decision thinks there’s something SPECIAL about you, so why wouldn’t you think that way about yourself too?

Marlin back in the Dominican Republic with some of her CCI peers and her sister

Here’s some of the things you can do when you need some motivation:

  • Sit down and think of what makes you happy or whatever goal you want to achieve and build a MoodBoard (also called Vision Board) and paste it somewhere you can see it every day.
  • Break down your goals, what is that that you want? What steps can you take RIGHT NOW? Set due dates and start step by step. Think of each day as if that’s the only one that matters, but don’t forget your vision.
  • Connect with other CCI Alumni, ask for advices, email some of your professors if needed or the CCI Staff and coordinators. I assure you, they want to hear from you, and they can keep adding value to your life from distance.
  • Find a way to release stress, whether it is by doing some exercise, going to a park or Facetiming with your International Friends.
Marlin and her mom

Finally, I want to say goodbye with something Leeza Fernand told me once during my CCI year “People say they will do many things, but only a few take action”   

Be one of those that act and remember, if you need someone to talk to, you can count on your CCI Fam.

  • Marlin

CCI STUDENTS PARTICIPATE AT IYLA 2017, WASHINGTON DC

Taking a part on celebrating International Youth Day on August 12th, 30 CCI students of Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) attended International Youth Leaders Assembly 2017 (IYLA) in World Bank, Washington DC. All attendees, including CCI grantees, were so enthusiastic to participate on the lectures delivered by the remarkable-achievement panel speakers that are leaders and social-movement initiators in their respective organizations. They are counted to have made a great impact in their community in various fields like underprivileged community empowerment, inclusive education, women empowerment, and other social development fields.

The international forum that has successfully attracted participation from all youths throughout the globe was very open for general discussion and being used by all participants to address their concern on youth issues and share ideas. Furkan Batuhan Ilhan, CCI student from Turkey, put an issue to the floor about the importance of comprehensive participation from a social movement initiators and societies’ support to make an enormous positive impact.

Manuela Dimuccio Gonzales, secretary in World Bank Group and the board of Youth-to-Youth organization, encouraged all youths present in the hall to work together hand in hand with their community.

“If you want to walk fast, walk alone. But if you want to walk further, walk together,” Manuela quoted in her speech.

After serving 30-minute Leader Group Discussion (LGD), the forum gave chance to 17 group representatives to deliver their discussion report. One of the CCI students, Mamello Moloi from South Africa, selected by her LGD members, addressing the floor on issue Industry Innovation and Infrastructure. The Information Technology student of NVCC conveyed to her audience that the government has to give support to all youths regardless their social or financial situation since there are many young people coming from different background that have brilliant innovation but they seem to be out of government’s hand. This, she believes, is an act of government to make a sustainable impact for all societies around the globe.

Mamello Moloi, speaking as the representative of her LGD

The conference that day was closed by a group photo that assembled both participants and panel speakers in one photo frame and declared commitment for International Youth Day 2017 which is dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace.

Post written by Muhammad Arham, 2017-2018 participant at NOVA-Annandale from Indonesia

You Are Not Alone

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

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

The Girls Govern Town Hall Conference

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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.

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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