From Where I Stand 2015 – Part I

“From Where I Stand” started as an experiment for the Global UGRAD team. We wanted to capture updates from alumni, and we wanted to do it in a creative way. Little did we know the experiment would churn out gold! This project is one of our favorites, and we are so pleased to publish this third edition of “From Where I Stand” in this month’s Global Gazette. This month, we focus on UGRAD alumni from the 2014-2015 Academic Year. We had so many submissions that we will publish Part II next month! Stay tuned.

We are continually amazed by the the diversity of the students we get to walk alongside and their desires to make the world a better place. Join us in celebrating the determined, ambitious, and philanthropic owners of these feet.

Aoudourm, Cambodia | Presbyterian College, Socambodiauth Carolina
After returning home, I took final courses and now I am writing my Capstone. I am supposed to defend it early next month. Graduation day lays ahead! I am also working as a research assistant with Child Protection in Crisis Learning Network, Columbia University (Research on Children Outside of Family Care across Cambodia 2015); therefore, most of my time spent is traveling, collecting data, and interpreting and assisting researchers at provinces nationwide. This project is a collaboration between Columbia University and a few ministries in Cambodia including the Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation and Ministry of Interior. The data collected will be used to form a better policy to increase social net protection, health care and education for children in Cambodia. Besides this, I am working as the President of Youth of Buddhist Youth Center for Education, Advisor of Pannasastra Student Senate at Pannasastra University and Vice-Chairperson for Public Relations and Retention Committee of Junior Chamber International-Cambodia. My passion remains the same: become a great politician in the future. After graduation I am going to apply for graduate school in the U.S. and I have been working on an application to Columbia University. I hope I can make my dream comes true.

Saima, Bangladesh | Kent State University, OhioBangladesh
When I was in America, I engaged in many community service activities and volunteered with many organizations that work to alleviate poverty, homelessness and other social problems. After returning back to my country Bangladesh, I am sharing my service knowledge with others. Moreover, I have been involved in a project called “Alor Moshal” or “Flame of Light” which was initiated in a rural area of Sylhet in Bangladesh. It is very important to get the basic concepts of math and science down very early. Speaking well and writing persuasively, both in Bangla and English, are two major pillars of education. We intend to coach and mentor our young ones in these two skills. Moreover, it enables one to easily navigate through more complex concepts and also to become confident in their studies. I believe that the premise of Alor Moshal is to enable our students to achieve that level of proficiency.

Dennis, Costa Ricacosta rica | Kent State University, Ohio
The UGRAD exchange program is such a marvelous and complete experience that I was able to reinforce my passions, likes, and discover who I really am. Since my major is English Teaching and Translations, I have always liked social interaction and being able to communicate and transmit knowledge to others. Especially when those others are people in need. Since I came back from the UGRAD program I have been volunteering in orphanages in my community. There, I have been teaching English to toddlers of 3 and 4 years old. These populations are vulnerable kids in poverty conditions who have never been in contact with a second language experience, and it is amazing to see how fast and visible their improvement has been. Having the opportunity to serve others with all the knowledge I acquired abroad is such a fulfilling feeling that words cannot express. Although times get busy, I have also enrolled in my last semester at school, and graduation is just around the corner!

Michiko, Philippines | St. Catherine University, MinnesotaPhilippines 2
Being a UGRAD scholar has created for me a whole new appreciation for my natural environment. As a Mass Communication major, I cross-enrolled in our university’s Biology Department. In addition to being a student-journalist, I’m studying Special Topics in Biology, Conservation and Management. I also just came back from Palawan, the “Last Biodiversity Frontier” of the Philippines. I learned all about sustainable mining practices during my field-trip.

Javier, Panama | Wayne State University, Michigan
The UGRAD experience was such a great opportunity to learn from the U.S. culture and to improve my knowledge related to my field of study. Since returning to my country of Panama, I have experienced so many great things, I appreciate so much more all that I have here, my friends, my family and my culture. panamaI became a member of the Lion’s Club International which allows me to contribute with my country through community service, and it feels so good to be part of it because there’s always a new way to help others. I had the chance to develop a water treatment project as well and it led me to participate in a national contest named Odebrecht Award for Sustainable Development. I have been visiting some places that I had not visited yet and it impresses me very much how beautiful my country is.

Hassan, Saudi Arabia | SUNY Cobleskill, New YorkSaudi arabia
I’m standing on the top of my college building waiting for my midterm to start. After my eventful journey I rediscovered my passion for writing and literature again after a long bout of writers’ block. I’m working with another NESA alum on enhancing our writings and maybe we will publish something one day; I hope. I’m fitting myself to school, and it’s challenging to be back to an easier school when you’re used to a higher level, but that shouldn’t be a problem. I’m standing at the top of my college building and I’ll always be there.

Duc, Vietnam | Carroll College, MontanaVietnam1
Coming back to Vietnam after 4 months in the U.S., I continue my senior year at university. At the same time I am in charge of my camera store which was taken care of by my partner while I was away. We have rented a bigger house and hired staff to make it larger in scale. Now, I am working in cooperation with a tourism company in which we provide photography services for tourists in Hanoi. In that, I play the role as a teacher of photography and as a tour guide. When I was in the U.S., I made a plan to open a home decor store as a part of my entrepreneurship class, which was made into reality 3 months ago. In the picture, I include a pipe lamp and a camera that I made. I’ve been teaching myself about wood working since 8 months ago and I am really glad I’ve made my idea come true. Besides, I am now also in charge of a ten person English class. They all want to apply for study abroad after college, so I try my best to share my experience so they can make better decision for themselves. I am really happy I was a part of UGRAD and I was always motivated to be in a network where everyone is doing great things.

Abdelrahman, Egypt | University of Evansville, Indianaegypt
After returning to Egypt from my one-year UGRAD experience, I am working here in El-Gouna, Egypt with my youthinkgreen-Egypt team as a Project Manager to organize a sustainability summer camp. The main topic of the camp is solar energy and the participants attend theoretical and practical workshops to increase their knowledge and have effective hands-on experiences. For sure, we did not forget to address topics like entrepreneurship and business modeling which will help our participants to develop their business plans and pitch their ideas in front of a wide range of investors from the private sector and governmental officials in the closing ceremony.

Meriam, Tunisia | Fairleigh Dickinson University, New JerseyTunisia2
Since I got back to Tunisia I have been volunteering with “Chambre Nationale des Femmes Chefs d’entrprises” which is an NGO that promotes the economic and social role of women entrepreneurs in Tunisia at the local and international level. I have been helping in translating documents to English and organizing the event “Women Entrepreneurship Days”. I am also working with another NGO “IIDebate” on a project that aims to do an election simulation in policy debate format for young scholars (14-18 years old), preceded by training on topics including debate, public speaking, non-verbal communication, civic engagement, journalism, advocacy and freedom of speech.

Carmela, Philippines | University of Wisconsin, Eau ClairePhilippines 3
How does it really feel to be in a teacher’s shoes? I found myself contemplating about this pressing question amidst our crazy academic schedule. I was wondering how my life would be after graduating from college and facing dozens of students a day. But… I was caught in my reality that these black school shoes, from where I stand now, are still of a 3rd year college student braving the new journey with my new batch of classmates, new set of challenges and fresh opportunities of serving my campus. It was after my UGRAD experience that my passion to get involved on my university campus again was rekindled. I realized that I am a part of communities bigger than I know and that walking on waters, even on stones, will mold me into a better and stronger person and future teacher, just like my walk as a UGRAD scholar.

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