Hello! I am Anhal Kozhaya, a senior in political science and international affairs with a minor in legal studies at the Lebanese American University – Beirut. On November 3, 2021, I received the acceptance email for Global UGRAD spring semester 2022. It stated that I would be placed at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan, USA. That was the best morning. Indeed, this program is a dream for so many undergraduate students. Being chosen among hundreds from Lebanon to go to the United States on this program was indeed an honor to me and an exceptional asset to my career, future goals, and life as a whole.
This experience changed me a lot – it transformed me and developed various new concepts and values that are considered to be the pillars of a successful career. Interacting on a daily basis with people from completely distinct backgrounds, living with youth who have different perspectives of life, and spending time with individuals in a very diverse society and pluralistic community has given me a different view of life and a new manner to look at things in life. It was undoubtedly the best, most exceptional, and unique experience a young adult can ever ask for.
Throughout [my UGRAD] semester, I worked with so many amazing people with exceptionally bright minds. I have developed new concepts in regard to gender equality, sustainable development goals, equality, social justice, tolerance, and much more. As a result, I engaged in multiple community service projects, conducted several research papers, and written different articles that focus on various sociopolitical topics. Indeed, during my exchange program, I had built several strong connections and relationships with my professors, friends in different classes, and my roommate; each had something to add to my life and experience.
As for my professors, they gave their time and effort so that I can get the best out of the material and knowledge. As for my friends, they constantly supported me and tried as hard as they could to make me feel welcomed and comfortable. Lastly, my roommate was priceless; he was one of a kind. He is surely the best roommate that any college student wishes to have. Ryan was a true brother – a considerate, passionate, loyal, and kind-hearted friend. In simple words, this experience taught me the value of strong true relationships with people, be it professional, brotherhood, friendships, and much more.
Since the day I came back from the United States, new things started to take place in my life. First, I got accepted to a one-year scholarship program in gender studies; I interned for one month at the United Nations Development Program – Regional Bureau of Arab States, Program Support Unit; and I established a new Rotaract Club in my region (trying to spread the culture of fellowship through service, volunteerism, and community service). The UGRAD experience opened various new doors in my life, and it was like the founding step for the goals that I aspire to achieve.