When I received the first e-mail notifying me that I was nominated for an in-person exchange program in the U.S. I jumped from my chair with a huge smile and put my hands on my head and just said: Thanks God! This can be only you! I thought this would be just another exciting trip where I would meet very professional and interesting people, that I would share information about my country and my students and everything I do.
The first day in Indiana was rainy and cold. The first person I met was Alice and then Miriam (wonderful team by the way). I arrived at the hotel and I met Walaa in person! She had been my mentor in my virtual exchange and this program made it possible for us to meet each other in the US, then she introduced me to two other colleagues, Rokeeyoh and Salma. That night I explored the hotel and I tried to go to buy dinner, it was too cold. I grabbed a bag of chips and an orange juice from the hotel gift shop and went back to my room. To this moment I was still trying to understand what I was doing there!
The next day, I woke up and went for breakfast. There I met Yimam, Said, Jalel, Michael and finally Erkan, my best friend from Turkey. I was trying so hard to understand their accents and the way they speak English, but now I just miss those conversations. The days went on. I met the rest of the group and had a lot of fun with all of them. I found inspiration in Kate’s story, I enjoyed to see Ayna recording everything, and of course I loved Mansour’s speeches. Every day I was expecting Jalel to ask his two questions so I could get more information from the presenters as well. After each session and after the questions, Salma’s comments were so accurate! I want to mention all of my colleagues because all of them are my biggest take away, and of course my gang, my crew, Ilirjana, Karen, Erkan and Salma, the people who I learned the most. The academic part was so well designed that I loved it every step of the way and the organization from FHI360 Super Maggie! Plus Matthew, Dr. Connor and Miriam was spectacular!
I have to come to an end saying thank you. I can’t describe my professional growth during these three weeks, but I have to work hard to achieve my new goals. And, finally, as we used to say at the end of every session, one… two… three… SERVICE LEARNING!!!