While we were studying at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond; we were paired with 25 American classmates and spent the majority of our class time working with our American counterparts on social media-focused projects. We worked with local non-profit organizations from the Richmond community. We developed a social media strategy for them. Also, we presented these projects to our chosen non-profit for professional critique.
In addition to our academic program, we participated in cultural, educational, and community service activities. Additionally, on the weekends we visited many of the U.S.’ attractions and historical sites. First, we went to Williamsburg, the epicenter of education, government and culture of 18th century Virginia, as well as Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where we visited an Amish country and enjoyed a family-style dinner with community members.
We spent several afternoons volunteering in the local community. We worked with a local organization to teach impoverished and homeless Richmond citizens basic computer and internet skills. Also, we partnering and interacting with youth and volunteering for the organization Big Brothers, Big sisters. The reason behind choosing this non-profit organization was because it aimed to impact children’s lives by initiating one-to-one mentoring relationships between youth and volunteers from the community.
After five weeks, we went to New York City.
The nights there were also something that cannot be fully explained. We went to the Empire State Building, which consists of 102 floors. The view from the upper floor was WOW; we could have seen New York, Brooklyn and Queen Cities. The most impressive activity in New York was visiting the Ground zero area, where the twin towers locate. The tour was amazing, and we enjoyed every single moment in there. Also, we have been in the Statue of Liberty.
The nights in the United States were something unforgettable. The time has gone and the six-weeks have passed but we still and forever will have the good memories and the time that we spent there."
* Ayoush Al-Zaidy is an Information Technology Sophomore at the American Universtiy of Iraq-Sulaimani. She is an Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP) Alumni