From Where I Stand: Part II

Last month, our “From Where I Stand” article was one of most popular pieces in the history of the Global Gazette! Since then, we have received even more updates from UGRAD alumni. We are excited to share round two of these with you.

Once again, join us in celebrating these incredible alumni who are leaders and change-makers in their home communities.

Nyan San Kim, Burmanyan san
Since returning home from the UGRAD Program, I am very eager to work. In the U.S. I saw many students who were working as well as studying. I wanted to try that so I started interning at a local audit firm and I also teach English and Math at an international school. Now I also have a new job at a foreign company as a Finance/Admin Assistant. I am also working on a project to open an English school and a mini-library at a village in the Chin State. A very big thanks to World Learning for the UGRAD Program because it totally changed my life. Before joining this program, I was a girl who didn’t have confidence and who only knew to study. But after joining this program, I became someone who believes I can do anything if I really want to, and who thinks this not only for me but also for my country. This program changed my life and now I am ready to use this change for my country, for my friends, for my relatives and for my family.

Sanja Duric, SerbiaSAnja
Since returning home and becoming a UGRAD Alumna, I have graduated from the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Political Sciences and enrolled in two master’s programs. One is International Politics and the other is Computer Science in Social Sciences. I have also had several internships. In 2013 I interned at the World Learning office in Belgrade, and currently I am interning at the U.S Embassy in Belgrade.

Emma Castro, HondurasEmma Castro
After volunteering for a few years, I joined the team at Operation Blessing Honduras as Children’s Program Manager. It was while working with vulnerable children that I discovered what I believe is my passion in life. The UGRAD experience taught me to question my surroundings. As I worked closely with institutionalized children, a persistent question arose in me: “Is there another way we can care for vulnerable and abandoned children?” I realized I was not the only one asking this question, and that a movement was already taking place attempting to introduce family-based alternatives as a better way of caring for these children. There is a long road ahead, but I have determined to dedicate my life to fight this cause. For now, I’m taking small steps the way UGRADs do it best: by researching the issue to understand the needs and changes required, getting acquainted with key leaders and organizations that have a similar vision, and furthering my knowledge, this time pursuing a degree in social work. From where I stand, I see hope… and positive change waiting to happen!

Phuovong Boutsady, LaosPhuovong
In this photo I am standing at Maison de la Culture, an old wooden French colonial style house in Vientiane, Laos, where I am implementing my community service. I have been teaching Khaen for free there since August 2014. As I said to everyone at the Re-entry workshop in March 2012 in D.C, promoting volunteerism is my priority when I come back home. And I really am doing it. I also got a new part time job as a sports anchor and commentator on the Barclay Premier League (English Football) after my main job as a journalist and translator. It is always amazing to be UGRAD!

Zuzana Cipak, SerbiaZuzana
I’ve been living in Portugal since January 2013 and I was fortunate enough to start a real teaching career here. After getting an international teaching qualification I got my first full-time job and now I’m in my second year of teaching at a highly professional private language school. In the summer of 2014 I started my first summer teaching job in the UK and I’m looking forward to my next summer teaching at the same school. I also took a Portuguese course in August, so now I’m quite confident in my host environment. The only thing I’ve been missing is volunteering and I can’t wait to find something I can help out with this summer. I’ve also been writing book reviews for the newsletter of an international professional association in my field.

Carolina Carrillo, Costa RicaCarolina
I have been working as an English and Environmental teacher for four years. My passion relies on teaching others about responsible waste management and recycling habits. I work at C.E.U.N.A. which follows Sustainable Human Development in becoming an example of Green educational centers in Costa Rica. Through the experience I have gained working on environmental education, alumni from UGRAD Program and myself have created a proposal for 2015 AEIF in which we hope to help rural schools in Costa Rica in matters of environmental education.

Yang Zhang, China
After I came back to China, I graduated from Yang ZhangGuangxi University, receiving the most honorable Principle’s scholarship. And now, I have been studying in Wuhan University Law School (Top 5 in China) for my master’s degree, in which I major in financial law, focusing on the regulation research of the inclusive financial system. I have also been volunteering at the most famous non-profit legal aid center for vulnerable people, the Center for Protection of Rights of Disadvantaged Citizens. I always think of the happy and meaningful experience I had in U.S. which brought out the best in me. I will apply the good ideas I learned there and promote the situations of the disadvantaged people. I am on the way!

Camila Acevedo, El Salvadorcamila
Since the completion of my UGRAD program, through the World Learning Alumni Initiative, I got the opportunity to prepare a proposal and won a small grant to develop a project to prevent violence in a community of my country. The name of the project is “Soccer and Smiles: to achieve culture of peace.” Also, after I returned to my home country, I worked as a Research Assistant focused on child migration and had the opportunity to be a Junior Researcher for a consultancy focused on teenagers and childhood pregnancy. Before graduating I got an internship in Human Rights at the British Embassy , where I practiced all the skills I learned while I was studying as a UGRAD. I graduated with honors from my Psychology program at my university in El Salvador (UCA) and got a scholarship to start my Master’s Program. I was also offered a position as a Preventive Psychologist in one of USAID’s important violence prevention projects, “SolucionES,” where I work with at-risk children and teenagers to build peaceful communities. I am very thankful of the opportunities that have been given to me, and especially to the UGRAD program for being essential in my professional and personal learning.

Eng Hwa Tan, MalaysiaEng
I am the only alumnus from Kedah, the Rice Bowl State of Malaysia who had completed UGRAD program back in 2009. I graduated from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA, UK) with professional qualification in 2011 and worked with a Big Four Accounting firm. In 2014, I successfully became a member of ACCA, UK and was admitted to the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA). In the same year, I was recognized for my achievements with the Meritorious Service Medal (carrying the letters of PJK) bestowed up me by the honorable Sultan of Kedah. In 2015, I set up my own accounting firm in my home state, named EH TAN & CO.

Victor A Silva Diaz, Nicaragua
I have been working as a financial analyst for a year Victorin a company related to coffee exportation. I would say the coffee world is not as everybody thinks. It is complicated! However, besides growing professionally, I have seen how poor communities in Nicaragua have improved their education through sustainable programs executed by the company I work for. Therefore I am glad to put into practice the leadership skills and empowerment methods that I learned as a UGRAD for improving the lives of many of the poorest communities in my country.

Aleksandra Ninkovic
Four years after successful completion of the UGRAD exchange program I am standing at the office of the software development company Aleksandra Ninkovicas UI/UX designer, actively working on designing and developing  intuitive, functional and overall complex web and mobile applications, as well as video games. During the past five years I have traveled all over Europe, lived in Germany for a while, moved to Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, where I’m actively participating  in women empowering/feminist/LGBTQ actions, events and festivals, as part of OPA (Organisation for Promoting Activism). Thank you World Learning for showing me how to build potentials and how to appreciate privilege of education and cultural exchange.

Koral Nunez, Dominican Republic
“From where I stand” I can say that there’s no limit for people who desire to reach a dream, a promise, Koralto get over something, to learn, grow, and travel. In life, as long as you are living, you can always keep improving, making a better version of yourself. Since I got back, life has been non-stop. Right now I am a teacher’s assistant in a private school in the morning, a volunteer in a public one in the afternoon, I write for a small digital newspaper, and study at night. I’m also playing the viola in the Orchestra, started serving in a rural community as a teacher, and also I’m also a researcher for the Ministry of Education in my country. It’s amazing how fast life is moving, and right now I’m standing here, but the truth is, who knows where I’m going to be standing tomorrow? There’s no limit; you’ve got to keep walking, even crawling if you have to, until you reach your dream! Never give up! Thank you UGRAD, you definitely changed me for better!

Nanak Hikmatullah, Indonesiananak
I completed the UGRAD Program in 2012 then continued my studies and graduated cum laude in 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Language and Literature. I was a research and teaching assistant in my college. Outside of school, I, along with several friends, established and became a member of some non-governmental organizations. My social project – After-School Enrichment Project – was funded by World Learning in 2013. Currently I’m teaching English at an International English School owned by Pearson, and look forward to continuing my master’s studies as I have been admitted to the University of Edinburgh in the U.K.

Flora Bendeck, Honduras
I graduated in Information System Management last September and have been applying to jobs in the field. FloraIt kind of reminded me of the time I was looking for an internship with the UGRAD program. In the meantime, I’ve been working on several art projects and I’m very happy with what I have achieved in this small time. In October, one of my ceramics got selected for an exposition sponsored by the National University of Honduras “III Bienal de las Artes Plasticas UNAH 2014,” competing  with many National and International artists. One month later, I sold a sculpture to the Biology department at the UNAH. This last piece made me feel really proud of my work as an artist because it was all made of recycled materials and mostly from soda cans which made it a really challenging and laborious project. The result of the hard work was a 5 foot macaw (national bird of Honduras) standing on a set of symbols that together give meaning to the piece.

Man Peng, Chinaman
Since the UGRAD exchange and AEI programs have finished, I have been working on a volunteer program in my country. The experience I had and things I learned in U.S. and from AEI program continue to benefit me a lot. I will always remember those days and be inspired. I have been coordinating a fundraising run, the goal of which is to raise the awareness of charity and physical exercise while helping people in need in the city (gas supplies for the old people in the villages, new blackboards for elementary school, etc). For now, we have the proposals ready, and our run day will be on March 22, 2015. Things I learned in U.S. and the AEI program benefit me a lot when working on the project. I am looking forward to March.

Evelyn Espinoza, PanamaEvelyn
My feet are over a floor that has different lines. Those lines mean to me all the options and opportunities that I have had after my UGRAD Program. The UGRAD program gave me a new world full of dreams and challenges and is up to me which way I will take now.


Congratulations to all our alumni. 
“Once a UGRAD, always a UGRAD!”












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