The American Global UGRAD Participant by Courtney Cummings
Courtney joined the Global UGRAD End of Program Workshop to assist with the needs of Milica Knevic, a participant from Serbia who uses a wheelchair and currently atttends Wright State University. The following article is Courtney’s reflection of her time with the Global UGRAD students.
I met Milica through work. I was/am her personal assistant or PA. Though I worked for Milica and helped tend to her needs, our relationship quickly blossomed into a close friendship. Being a personal assistant can be a very challenging, yet very rewarding job. Every day I go see Milica, work with her during her nighttime routine, say goodnight and do it all over again the next day. Every interaction was a good interaction. Each time we met, we grew closer and closer. I learned how passionate she is for people with disabilities, how she is working to make a difference in Serbia and about all her different projects she hoped to do when she got back home. We constantly learn new things about each other; about each other’s cultures and customs and each other’s weird quirks. As the semester went on, our friendship grew and I had the opportunity to go to the Global UGRAD End of Program Workshop.
A little background information on me: Last semester I studied abroad with a program called Semester at Sea and visited 4 continents and a total of 14 countries. I would consider myself not a typical American; I have a bubbly, adventurous personality. With that being said, the Global UGRAD End of Program Workshop was still a culture shock, but in a great way. In the few days of being there, I learned so much and felt like I grew so close with many of the UGRAD students. From the very first day everyone was so friendly and genuine, many asked how an American could be a Global UGRAD student (which, unfortunately I can’t) but I am so thankful I got to be a part of the program for a short while. I learned something from each and every one of the Global UGRAD students that I met. I was so inspired by their passion, perseverance and dedication to their projects in their home countries. Each and every one of the Global UGRAD students is absolutely incredible. What they hope to do in their home countries, and what they have already accomplished, just blows my mind. We need more people in the world like Global UGRADs; those that inspire hope and strive for improvement for a better tomorrow.
As the semester winds down, I reflect on the time I spent with Milica. I know she doesn’t like to be called inspiring, but she truly is. Every week she gets up, goes to the gym and puts in the work and studies hard in order to succeed. She may use a wheelchair but that doesn’t stop her from breaking and overcoming every single barrier that is placed in front of her. She is a go-getter, a traveler, an advocate for those with disabilities and one of my closest friends. I have total confidence that she will succeed at anything she does because that is just the type of person she is. She wants to make changes for those with disabilities in her country, she wants to open up a rehabilitation center for those with disabilities and she wants to change the stigma surrounding those with disabilities in Serbia. She will do all those things and more because I believe in her and I believe in the Global UGRAD Program.