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Around the world, overseas to COD

By   /   October 31, 2013  /   Comments Off

Rosalie Deastis //Features Editor

 Imagine leaving home for a full academic year, by yourself, away from your friends and family. You move to a country where you are completely unfamiliar with the culture and lifestyle. This is what participants of the Community College Initiative Program do every year. They take on the opportunity to study in the U.S. and gain valuable life skills that they can bring back to their countries in order to contribute to the economic growth and development.

Students can study agriculture, applied engineering, business management and administration, early childhood education, information technology, media and tourism and hospitality management. They must complete 100 hours of volunteer work and 60 hours of internships, while taking 12 credit hours worth of academic classes. They also must maintain a 2.5 GPA.

I really enjoyed being able to sit down with a handful of these students, each of them from a different country, all so thankful to be a part of this program. We all gathered around the long table in my office, and for a moment I realized I’m the lucky one. Being an American means being able to meet people from all the over world in the comfort of my own workplace.

These students are most definitely praiseworthy in my opinion, simply for their courage, thirst to learn and enthusiasm to make the most out of their time here.

Photo by Denton Dooley

Photo by Denton Dooley


Fatima Ali

Islamabad, Pakistan

 24 years old

Enjoys cooking traditional Pakistani and Indian foods such as Biryani and Nihari

Loves gardening and reading

Q. What has been biggest adjustment for you living here?

A. The food was a big adjustment for me. I’m used to spicy food and I don’t feel like there’s a lot of that here. But learning how to cook some American foods has been a very lovely experience.

Q. What has been the most impactful experience for you so far?

A. I love volunteering. I’ve volunteered for People’s Resource Center and Feed My Starving Children. I am amazed by how much these organizations help people, and I’ve found helping people to be such a great feeling.

Q. Is Halloween celebrated where you’re from?

A. The youngsters like to but otherwise it isn’t a big deal like it is here. Most people in my country don’t even know about it.


Photo by Denton Dooley

Photo by Denton Dooley

Yusuf Diker

Ankara, Turkey

20 years old

Loves dancing, games and music 

Hopes to have his own business one day

Q. What is one thing you’ve learned so far living in the U.S.?

A. I’ve learned how important punctuality is. It’s something I’ve had to adjust to but it’s a good thing to know.

Q. What are some things you’re looking forward to as the rest of the school year continues?

A. I want to meet new people, learn about all the different cultures here and learn more about how the educational system is different from mine at home.

Q. What’s one thing you want to do before returning home?

A. I want to visit New York.


Photo by Denton Dooley

Photo by Denton Dooley

Nourdiine Ouattara

Abidjan, Ivory coast

25 years old

Enjoys playing soccer and watching American movies

Has five siblings at home

Q. Do you miss home yet?

A. Yes, I miss my family and it’s hard not being here with my siblings. But I do not miss my culture too much. I like the American lifestyle better.

Q. What are some of your favorite American foods that you’ve tried?

A. Hot dogs, burgers, and s’mores.

Q. How do you feel this opportunity is going to benefit you as a person?

A. It’s a new way of learning for me, and an experience to develop new skills while helping us to become better people. I’d say it’s a very life changing experience so far.

Photo by Denton Dooley

Photo by Denton Dooley

Thabiso Manala

Polokwane, South Africa

24 years old

Loves playing drums, singing, dancing and listening to house music

Is a DJ back home

Q. What made you get into DJing?

A. I was around my uncle a lot growing up, who had a music system. I loved it so much and ended up buying my own. Now I DJ at the clubs and taverns in my hometown.

Q. What has been one of the most difficult things for you to adjust to out here?

A. The time change. I feel like I get really sleepy early in the day too often.

Q. Where else have you traveled?

A. This is my first time leaving home, so this has been very exciting for me.


Photo by Denton Dooley

Photo by Denton Dooley


Karim Sharafeldin

Giza, Egypt

25 years old 

Earned his skydiving license in Egypt

Hopes to see the Statue of Liberty before returning home

Q. What did you hear about Americans before coming here, and were the rumors true?

A. I heard that they are friendly and helpful people. So far, they have all been welcoming and kind.

Q. How have you been adjusting to the weather?

A. I’m so excited to be here that the weather doesn’t even matter. It’s different for me but I like it, and I’m excited to see my first snowflake.

Q. Have you gotten into any television shows while you’ve been here?

A. Yes, I love comedy shows. And I love Angelina Jolie!


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  • Published: 9 months ago on October 31, 2013
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  • Last Modified: October 31, 2013 @ 5:31 pm
  • Filed Under: On The Cover

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