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Celebrating International Education Week

To celebrate International Education Week, the Stevens Initiative is uplifting the voices of its participants and alumni. Read below to learn how virtual exchange transformed their lives. 

Being a part of a global workshop for teens just like me has deepened my hunger for traveling and learning about the world. Not only did I get to meet other international students, but I learned how to solve problems with them, which is a skill that will last a lifetime.

Jewel, United States, iEARN-USA's BRIDGE

This experience was truly life changing. It really opened my eyes and helped me see the world from a whole new perspective, and I’ve gained leadership skills that will carry on and develop for the rest of my life. For that I'm forever grateful.

Shaden, Libya, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan's Business and Culture

As a shy person, I never thought that what I truly needed to be confidently active and motivated was to have a virtual exchange experience. Soliya's Connect Global: US-MENA gave me courage, friends, curiosity; empathy and acceptance.

Mahmoud, Libya, Soliya's Connect Global: US-MENA

After this wonderful opportunity, I can now communicate comfortably with people from different cultures. This experience helped me to develop my leadership and technical skills, as I am currently using the experiences I got from the program to make my graduate project.

Mohammad, Iraq, World Learning's NextGen Coders Network

Being a part of How To Succeed As an Innovator virtual exchange made me realize how inspiring change can be. I met inspiring peers and mentors who taught that being different is what changes the world. After the program, I felt an urge to use innovation to drive change in my community especially in the medical field.

Mennatullah, Egypt, Citizen Diplomacy International of Philadelphia's How To Succeed As an Innovator

This program allowed me to step outside the context of my campus and apply my skills to a community across the globe. I was inspired by the drive and commitment of my teammates, and we continue to support each other and leverage the experience in our academic and professional work, even years after the program ended.

Jackie, United States, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan's M2GATE

Through the Experiment Digital, myself and many others have bonded over a deep love of leadership – experiencing human connection past physical borders – while learning how to foster change in our communities.

Jordan, United States, World Learning's The Experiment Digital

IREX's virtual exchange program helped me realize that even if we have different upbringings, backgrounds, and lifestyles, no matter where we are, we still share the same struggles. We can work on finding a solution together.

Huda, Iraq, IREX's Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge

I never thought of myself as a talkative person. When I was younger at school I rarely participated in class. I always just sat quietly in the back. I thought that this is who I am. But after participating in Soliya's Connect Global: US-MENA, I found out that I am a more social and confident person than I used to be.

Ahmed, Libya, Soliya's Connect Global: US-MENA

The best opportunity of a lifetime! Through virtual exchange, I learned how to share my opinions and feel included in the world. The program gave me the confidence to speak with native speakers and to walk a mile in their shoes. Now, I can manage a program, and talk to people from another culture about common problems and find solutions.

Mustafa, Iraq, World Learning's NextGen Coders Network

Virtual exchange programs can help us change our ways of thinking of people from other countries. In fact, they get us to believe that no matter how far we are from each other, we are still very similar and we can connect easily. Even though we might have different backgrounds, different cultures, and different mindsets, we have a lot of mutual interests and matters. [Through virtual] exchange programs, we understand the similarities [of others] and see how close we can get despite the distance.

Fares, Tunisia, Soliya's Connect Global: US-MENA

We all deserve a life-changing experience, a chance to be encouraged to do something we were always afraid of. During my first virtual exchange program, I experienced that. I had the opportunity to speak freely in a language I never thought I'd be capable of communicating in. I was blessed with the best team who pushed me ahead.

Marwa, Algeria, World Learning's The Experiment Digital

In the virtual exchange program, I was able to learn a lot about low-resource designs and engineering skills for global health challenges. It gave me a unique opportunity to work with a global team to develop a design that can positively impact people.

Harika, United States, Engineering World Health's Engineering World Health Virtual Exchange

Virtual exchange is a huge opportunity for cross-cultural discussions and more understanding between youth all around the world. It was the first time for me to feel that level of understanding and the discussions are so revolutionary. I feel it is crucial for youth in MENA and the US to have this experience because it will definitely create a more peaceful future for everyone on this planet.

Abdelkhalik, Palestinian Territories, World Learning's NextGen Coders Network

I learned many things through this unique experience, I learned how to be a leader. [I learned] how to deal with different opinions [of people] from different places and languages, And how to cooperate with each other to develop a project, I also learned about American culture and noticed that we have many points in common, including how to be a global citizen.

Dleen, Iraq, United Planet’s American-Iraqi Public Health Teams

Making a global change was far from my expectations until I dove into Transformational Encounters. This virtual exchange program helped me feel my worth and my duty to share and exchange ideas with different people from different races and cultures. I now can feel the importance of raising my own voice and words.

Heba, Palestinian Territories, Tomorrow’s Women’s (Formerly Creativity for Peace) Transformational Encounters

The Experiment Digital helped me gain a global perspective, and get a better understanding of myself and my goals. The program empowered me to expand my view of the world, and see how I can make a difference.

Jean, United States, World Learning's The Experiment Digital

Virtual exchange opened a lot of doors for me, one most important is my Fulbright scholarship. Thanks to online tools, I met a lot of amazing people who are still my friends and we worked on an amazing project. It taught me to challenge myself and grow as a person. I was very grateful for the opportunity.

Hela, Tunisia, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan's M2GATE

This experience had a profound influence on me. It fostered a process of self-examination for me, in which I challenged my assumptions, recognized my personal triggers, and learned to actively listen. It widened my perspective of the world, made me open-minded and predisposed to accept different opinions. As a result, I became more self-aware than ever before.

Hanan, Libya, Soliya's Connect Global: US-MENA

Prior to this, I genuinely did not think I’d be able to hold on and initiate conversations about such helpful topics and conversations, it really helped me look at myself with a different perspective, and I now want to help the youth all over the world.

Khaled, Jordan, Global Nomads Group's Student to World

Virtual exchange has opened a multitude of doors – from meeting new friends, to a better understanding of the world, to professional growth as a leader. Virtual exchange changed my life in the best ways imaginable.

Cassandra, United States, IREX's Global Solutions Sustainability Challenge

My leadership and communication skills have highly improved during the virtual exchange. Such skills will help me in mobilizing my community to promote projects for development. For example, I already used what I learned in this program to implement my own community-service projects where I gathered volunteers for afforestation, garbage-collection, and sanitizing our building during the COVID-19 quarantine period.

Adem, Algeria, World Learning's The Experiment Digital

NextGen Coders Network has been a very enjoyable experience, and I have learned more than expected. What I am really fascinated about is the idea that we can work with people across oceans to innovate and come up with ideas to solve real-world problems.

Nadin, Palestinian Territories, World Learning's NextGen Coders Network

The swift decision I took to join a virtual exchange was a wise one. With a click of a button, I got to make new friends around the globe and discuss demanding common matters. It made me believe that difference is the core of being human; we should embrace not fear it.

Khoud, Libya, Soliya's Connect Global: US-MENA

Virtual exchange has provided me with the amazing opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and to interact and work with people from different cultures and backgrounds. It’s a unique, diverse experience that has granted me with the communication skills to help me easily connect with others from different parts of the world.

Anmar, Libya, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan's Business and Culture

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