From Where I Stand 2015 – Part II

Last month, we published Part I of From Where I Stand, the UGRAD photo project that creatively shows what alumni have accomplished since returning home. If you did not have a chance to read last month’s issue, you can find it here. We are thrilled to share even more stories of volunteerism, academics, and growth with you this month. Enjoy!

Ayesha, Bangladesh | Chatham University, PennsylvaniaBangladesh2
While working in my community work and internship in the United States, I started to plan on different ideas about how I can do something positive to serve my home community. After returning home, I started to look for an opportunity to implement the plans of my community involvement. I applied to become an “Actioneer” (member) of the education based non-profit organization Community Action. I am glad to share that I was accepted. I am working with a student who belongs to a very poor family living below the poverty line. My job is to help her follow through a financial and logistic support for the continuity of her academic life. I also have responsibilities of fund-raising initiatives for Community Action. I am very excited that I got a chance to practice my skills and passions that I acquired through the UGRAD program.

Si Ko, Burma | Tennessee Technical University, Tennesseeburma
I am learning Java Programming Language and studying Physics at Dagon University in Myanmar. I had studied educational subjects in Tennessee Tech University while I was an exchange student and now I am planning to create educational software for the students in my community. Then, I plan to provide free useful programs which will be helpful for their studies. I will try my best to provide access to better education systems for my community.

Mbarep, Indonesia | Illinois State University, Illinois
After completing the UGRAD program, I have continued doing community service activities. As soon as I returned home, I volunteered to work with cancer survivors in my town. I am currently a member of a community called Save Street Child, where I volunteer as a teacher for impoverished and marginalized children. I teach them English and math every Sunday afternoon and help facilitate activities that can stimulate their creativity. In July, my community and I also conducted a social activity in which we collected used clothes that were then distributed to the poor. Futhermore, UGRAD was an outstanding exchange experience for me and has me always looking for other exchange opportunities. Fortunately, I was selected as a representative of the province where I live, South Sumatra, for a youth exchange program to Australia’s Canberra. I will be going there to start the program in October.

Nelson, El Salvador | East Tennessee State University, Tennesseeel salvador
After completing my UGRAD Exchange Program, I returned to El Salvador to continue pursuing my Bachelor of Arts degree. Besides studying, I also work as an English Teacher and as a Teacher’s Resource Center Coordinator at the best English Academy in El Salvador: CCSA. Moreover, in my free time I do community work and run a small vocational project in my community.

Monthip, Laos | Humboldt State University, Californialaos
I was given a chance to pursue my dream in America not long ago. What I learned from that is how it feels to receive an opportunity and it makes me want to forward that feeling to others. Recently, I have been volunteering in the poorest district in my region. I want to give back to a community, I want people to feel the way I felt when I was given a chance to access to what I could not do without a help from other people. It makes me feel accomplished to see people’s happy smile.

Maya, Indonesia | Missouri State University, Missouri
As soon as I returned to Indonesia, I did community service at Turun Tangan Aceh, teaching English to less fortunate children in the post-tsunami region of Kampung Jawa, Banda Aceh. Currently, I volunteer teach TOEFL to some friends who cannot afford to pay for TOEFL classes. They come from faculties such as Engineering, Math and Science, and Teacher Training. Now, I work at a Singaporean research company based in Banda Aceh as a translator. The research is about the post-conflict and tsunami situation in Aceh. I also work at the Language Center at my university teaching TOEFL while working on my thesis. I am also going to do my intership in one of high schools in Banda Aceh this following month.

Fattoum, Tunisia | Grand Valley State University, MichiganTunisia1
Since returning to Tunisia, I’ve had an increased desire to make a change, to be active and to inspire people through my experience in the U.S. First of all, we won the Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund grant for 2015 which was a great opportunity to stay in touch with Tunisian UGRAD participants and to work with the local communities. Our project consisted on creating a coding campus for kids. This project “Young Tunisian Coders Academy” aims mainly to teach kids how to code and to develop their way of thinking. Also, I was a participant in the “Young Leaders Forum: Leading Change Across the Mediterranean 2015”, which was held in Berlin, Germany. This project is funded by the German Ministry of the Foreign Affair and works with Tunisia and Morocco. I was part of the “Renewable Energy” group and our project is to create a five day workshop in a Tunisian University and to bring qualified speakers/experts to talk about different topics related to renewable energy. After this forum, we aim to launch a workshop where students can learn how to create mini solar panels samples. We are looking to get bigger and to find investors in order to launch a bigger project soon in Tunisia. This is what I’ve been doing since I’m back to Tunisia and all of it goes back to the UGRAD program which offered me many opportunities.

Hoa, Vietnam | St. Cloud State University, MinnesotaVietnam2
Seeing how awesome the lives of many UGRAD have been after their time in the U.S., I feel really inspired and motivated to be part of From Where I Stand. My picture was taken when I secretly sat at the chair of my current boss for whom I have been working for a month as an actuary. I realize that I have a free soul and freedom is all I need. Therefore, I just told my boss that I wanted to quit my job just this morning. I feel great that I dare to challenge the safe work I have been doing. High risk will get you high return if you harness your ability and your mind, I believe. Now a free soul is ready to take on more challenges and adventures, thanks to the inspiration he’s got from his UGRAD peers.

Luqman, IndonesiaTennessee Technical University, Tennessee
After my completion from the UGRAD program, I returned to Indonesia and did many social activities with my youth community and the new organizations I joined. I and my youth community cooperated with Rumah Pendidikan Bengkulu (Bengkulu Education House) and held a National Scholarship Workshop with an Indonesian Fulbright PhD scholar and we invited Vice Governor of Bengkulu sir Sultan Bachtiar Najamudin as the guest speaker. The scholarship ran successfully even though we only had 24 days to prepare everything. Second, me and my youth community cooperated with students from the Faculty of Education and the Kaizen English Club to clean a jogging track in Panjang Beach, Bengkulu.

Michiko, Philippines | St. Catherine State University, Minnesota
Being a UGRAD Michikoscholar 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 fieldtrip.

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