Hajar was able to learn about leadership and communication skills and specifically how these translate in a virtual setting, which was a new experience for her. “I used to hear about leadership skills but I have never experienced such things virtually,” she said. Additionally, she faced some challenges with peers when trying to find times to meet virtually because of the six-hour difference between them. In the end, they were able to proactively find solutions to overcome these hurdles and communicated effectively with one another in a way that was beneficial to all.
As a result of the collaboration with her peers in the United States, Hajar was able to identify the many struggles faced by women globally and realize that these issues were not isolated from one another. “I had never imagined that women in the U.S. would face the problem of salary inequality- I couldn’t believe it. Women all over the world are suffering,” she said. She was able to connect the experiences of women from Morocco to the experiences of women in the U.S., saying that “we should support each other, whether I am a Moroccan or American woman.”
After successfully completing the virtual exchange program, Hajar has a newfound confidence in herself and her abilities. She now feels more confident in her English language skills as well as her communication and leadership skills and applies these skills in a new job as a content manager for a company’s social media platforms. From her virtual exchange experience, she also found the motivation and encouragement to apply to The X Factor music competition to show off her singing talent. Though she wasn’t able to travel because of restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, her acceptance to the audition stage was a moment worth celebrating.
She keeps her virtual exchange experience at the center of her search for future opportunities, which include a study abroad graduate program. The topics explored during the Women’s Leadership Exchange sparked an interest in exploring gender and women studies as well as her continued passion for English, literature, and TEFL. For anyone thinking of participating in a virtual exchange program, Hajar believes it is a way to rethink the vision you have of yourself. “We are living in a world where we are followers – in reality our current personalities are shaped by our cultural background and the society we have been living in – in order for you to get out, people have to participate in virtual exchanges.”