Global UGRAD Fellows Explore Local Community
Stories of IREX
Eurasian undergradatue students studying in the US through the GLOBAL UGRAD program have been active both in and outside the classroom. Below are some examples of their volunteering experiences in their host communities.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Global UGRAD fellows Anzhelika Osmanova (Kazakhstan), Chingiz Rakhmanov (Azerbaijan), Davit Sioridze (Georgia), and Hamid Aghahuseynov (Azerbaijan) studying at Augustana College had the opportunity to meet the Mayor of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. During the meeting, fellows discussed a range of topics with the Mayor, including his role in managing the city, the upcoming congressional elections, as well as his personal journey towards achieving public office. The Mayor spoke of the challenges he has faced throughout his life and the obstacles he had to overcome to reach his goals. "I want to talk to young students in this room," he stated. "We really need you to change the world to a better place. Never listen to those who say you'll not be able to. If you have a dream don't let others throw it away."
Azeri fellow Ayla Alieva, studying at Fox Valley Technical College, attended the Annual Women's Fund Luncheon in her host community of Appleton, Wisconsin. The Women's Fund is an organization working to create positive social change by funding programs that improve the Appleton community by investing in the needs and talents of women and girls. The luncheon is an annual event in Appleton, and Ayla had the opportunity to network with women leaders in the community, and also had the opportunity to present about her home country of Azerbaijan at the event, and share how she is developing her own leadership skills through participation in the Global UGRAD program.
Global UGRAD fellows at Graceland University Goar Gyuldzhyan (Russia), Aizada Kadyrova (Kyrgyzstan), Yessen Kambakov (Kazakhstan), and Lyudmyla Makyeyeva (Ukraine) experienced Lamoni’s Civil War Day. History was brought to life at the event where they learned about the Civil War through interactive, hands-on living history presentations and reenactments. Kazakh fellow Yessen Kambakov reflected, “The event was fantastic! Initially, we went to the presentation about American history and Civil War days. Men and women dressed in national costumes that were widespread during Civil War, were talking about life in those times. This event made me feel like I was in America during the Civil War Days. People around were wearing national costumes, holding guns in their holsters, selling root beer, preparing for the reproduction of the battle, which made it all look very realistic! I even had a chance to hold a shotgun from 1800s.”
Moldovan fellow Aurelian Buzdugan participated in Lewis & Clark College’s “College Outdoors” program. Through the College Outdoors program, students gain practical experience in leadership roles by guiding community members on service trips to outdoor sites across the Pacific Northwest as mountains, rivers, deserts, and the coast. Aurelian, along with a number of other students from the school, conducted a project to clean up the Williamette River in northwestern Oregon. “The experience was great because I not only got to help the environment and utilize my leadership skills while guiding the group, but also made new friends and saw new Oregon sites in the process.”