Our OWN StoriesOneWorld Now!‘s primary objective is to cultivate the next generation of global leaders. The program is unique, however, because it is designed to create opportunities for young people that have historically not had access to integrated leadership programs – students of color and economically disadvantaged youth. Here are some of our students’ stories.
Open Gate of Opportunities
Ali: Arabic at Roosevelt High School and Study Abroad in Egypt
Everything about OneWorld Now! is great. The staff members are like my older brothers and sisters; they’ve helped me in every possible way. They have played a big role in my college application process. Starting from the winter session to the end of the school year, they have been helping me to get in to a good college, where I can continue studying, and learn about the world around me. I will be attending Evergreen State College in the fall. They have taught me to be a leader, and not just think about myself, but also think about the people around me.
OneWorld Now! has created a lot of opportunities for me that I believe I never could have had if I were not in the program. One of the biggest opportunities I got through OneWorld Now! is the chance to go abroad to Egypt for a month to study and practice my Arabic. I never imagined that I would ever in my life go abroad or to Egypt. The experience had a good impact on my life. It has changed me in so many ways that I never thought possible. While I was abroad I didn’t know what was changing inside me, but I knew that I was changing. When I got back home I felt that change in me. I was more responsible, and thought a lot more about the people around the world who have much less, even in terms of food to eat, and am thankful for what I have here. I have also become more patient, because while abroad I didn’t know the language so well, and had to think things through before I acted. OneWorld Now! has opened the gate of opportunities for me, and I don’t know how to thank them. I hope that one day I can return and give back.read more
My Dream a Reality
Philmon: Chinese at Garfield High School and Study Abroad in China
One of the most significant opportunities I had through OneWorld Now! was the Congressional Page Program, where high school students are sent to Washington, DC for a semester to work for congress on the House of Representatives floor. After my semester as a Congressional Page, I was invited to stay for the rest of the year to be a role model for the new pages in the spring semester. It was truly an honor to be able to work in the same place as the people who serve our country.
I am grateful for OneWorld Now!’s focus on global leadership and awareness, which has helped me expand my previously nascent global perspective. OneWorld Now! encourages its students to think about the limitations in our world as being created by ourselves. My experiences in the global leadership courses have inspired me to become a catalyst for social change and to help others realize their goals. I spent my first year at OneWorld Now! learning Mandarin Chinese, and, while other programs were incredibly expensive, OneWorld Now! provided me with a full scholarship. I am particularly excited that OneWorld Now! provided me with the opportunity to spend my entire senior year of high school in China! Now, after my experiences, I know what I want to become: a US ambassador working to make a change in this world through serving nations. I am confident that OneWorld Now! has given me the skills and instilled in me the values that will make my dream a reality. What is Philmon doing today?read more
Impossible is Nothing
Michelle: Arabic at Cleveland High School and Study Abroad in Egypt
OneWorld Now! has been a big part of my success during the last 2 years of high school. I started the program my junior year learning Arabic after school and attending leadership workshops every Friday. At the end of the year I was so surprised at how much commitment I put into this program. OneWorld Now! also offered many more opportunities. My heart was in studying abroad, but I never thought it was possible financially. I was told by OneWorld Now! that I should ‘never let money be a factor’, and I got this amazing opportunity to travel to Morocco, immerse in Arabic culture and further develop my language skills.
My OneWorld Now! journey has not stopped there. During my senior year One World Now! helped me with college application preparations and when I was struggling with my senior project, and had only 2 weeks left to come up with a project, I went to OneWorld for advice. They were able to help me develop a workshop on the growing population of multiracial people in the US. The day I held my workshop more than half of the OneWorld Staff was there to support me. That meant so much to me. They were almost like my ultimate support system.Throughout these 2 years of being involved in OneWorld Now! I see it as more than just a program; I see the staff and students as a big cultural family that is making a change. OneWorld Now! is definitely a good example of Mohamed Ali’s saying – “Impossible is Nothing”.read more
Ready for Global Citizenship
Nazeehah: Arabic at James Campbell High School, Hawaii, and Study Abroad in Qatar
Nazeehah is a senior at the University of Hawaii, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Islamic Studies. She has completed three years of Arabic and is applying her language skills as the Arabic Language Assistant for OWN-Hawaii classes. She has been the President of the Islamic Society since her freshman year, finding herself applying leadership skills every day.
When Nazeehah first learned about OWN-Hawaii, the Arabic drew her in but it was the leadership classes that kept her coming back every week. As an Indian and Muslim, Nazeehah’s background differs greatly from her peers and she finds herself a minority in Hawaii. The leadership classes provided personal growth that supported her identity development and a broader global perspective that stretched far beyond the small worldview she found herself limited by in Hawaii. At OWN leadership, she discovered a family that was open, diverse and eager to look beyond the shores of Hawaii. Nazeehah looked forward to leadership every week, joking with fellow students it was the “weekly therapy” they needed. A fond memory was the annual Sacred Circle, when a safe place for students is created for them to share personal experiences or thoughts. It was eye opening that she had developed such trusting relationships with her peers at OWN-Hawaii that they could share such things. Another memory Nazeehah will always hold close was the spring trip to Arabic Language and Cultural Exchange to Doha, Qatar. Applying her language and leadership skills made her trip deeply enriching and lessons learned were far “more important than nice photos for Facebook.” OWN-Hawaii had done a “great job at preparing her to be a global citizen”. Nazeehah is enjoying her senior year and waiting on news of an internship. After completing her BA, she plans to travel independently for a year and see more of the world for herself. She plans on attending Grad school but has yet to choose between law or security studies.read more
Five Languages and Counting
Kevin: Arabic at James Campbell High School, Hawaii, and Study Abroad in Morocco
Kevin is a senior at Hawaii Pacific University, majoring in International Relations with a focus on North/South Korea. He is currently on full scholarship on study abroad in South Korea. When he returns to HPU in a few weeks, he’ll continue at his previous job at the HPU study abroad office as an assistant to the Director. He speaks Arabic, Korean, Chinese and Filipino. Once his BA is complete, he plans to take a year to travel and connect with the many friends he has made on various trips abroad while also apply to graduate school. He intends to pursue a Masters in Global Governance or International Relations and Diplomacy.
Kevin joined OWN-Hawaii when he was a Sophomore at James Campbell Highschool. At the time, he was studying Chinese and had felt pulled towards international studies and diplomacy as his future career path. He had been watching the Arab Spring unfold and wanted to have a greater understanding of the culture and language. OWN-Hawaii was the door way to fluency in another language as well as leadership training. For two years, Kevin studied Arabic and Chinese simultaneously, two of the most difficult languages to learn. In our interview, Kevin said “every experience with OWN is a good memory” but a few points stood out, including his first trip to the Get Global Conference in Seattle. It was Kevin’s first time on the mainland. Considering himself an introvert, Kevin surprised himself by facilitating a workshop on stage in a conference hall with a large audience. His peers in OWN-Hawaii and Seattle gave him the confidence and support he needed. Through OWN-Hawaii, Kevin was award a scholarship to study abroad in Morocco for three weeks. Today he keeps up with his Arabic by sending his host family small care packages and letters in Arabic. While he wants to go back to Morocco, calling his time there “a memorable, once in a lifetime experience” he is eager to see as much of the world as possible.read more
Global Leader Breakfast 2015 Speech
Marianne: Arabic at Roosevelt and Study Abroad in Morocco and beyond
I am a true Seattleite by birth. Anyone in this room self-identify as long-term Seattleites? Let me see a raise of hands. To give you a bit of a background of the person standing in front of you today. I grew up just around the corner from what was formerly known as the Safeco building, now dubbed UW Tower on 45th. Picturing it in your mind, I spent a good amount of my childhood in a studio apartment with a family of four in aging apartment.
With that, the University of Washington fountain was my go-to stomping grounds. Ravenna park was a local favorite when I could urge my Korean mother to muster the time or energy to take me. It was certainly no paradise, but not an impossible way to live. We managed. Growing up, I still remember it was a big deal when we moved into a one bedroom when I was 8 or so, though there wasn’t a door to separate it from what we called the living room. Yet as the years when on, the inevitable hit. My sister and I got older and puberty onset. In that small one bedroom, it got crowded at home (to say the least). By high school, I started wearing all black. I listened solely to heavy metal and would stay out late like most teenagers. Perhaps unlike other teenagers, I had played violin in several orchestras for about seven years and hoped to compete nationally. Though, I could never afford those trips and quickly started losing interest in opportunities to travel or compete because I was deterred by the high costs. This indifference soon spread to college aspirations – it simply seemed too expensive and out of reach for someone like me. So during these formative teenage years, while spending too much time on the internet like many of those at that age, I stumbled across an advertisement for OneWorld Now! on a fellow myspace or facebook page – whatever we were using at that time. ‘Study abroad!’ the picture beckoned. Morocco or China – images of these exotic and completely unknown spaces swept me. And like my orchestra trips, I knew that I wanted to go too. And even if I couldn’t afford it now I believed that there would be a way, somewhere, somehow to go. I saw there were scholarships available, and for the first time I thought to myself that maybe, just maybe with enough work that I would be able to go too. And when I joined the program, where many others would see a nuisance, an anxious and unfocused teenager donning all black clothing, OWN saw potential. The OWN staff saw drive, and at the time they must have known this even more than I did. Through the leadership program, they were able to make me believe that I had worth. That my ideas were worth sharing – over the course of one year, they were able to channel this energy into someone who became introspective, who became comfortable taking risks, and they redirected that drive into a self-sustaining graduate. Beyond that, I became part of the OWN family. Many of us in the OWN program were working students through high school (saving money here and there I worked 20 hours a week since my 16th birthday), and most of us were the children of immigrants. We had little knowledge of how to navigate the intricacies of higher education, and few of us were encouraged to pursue it outside of the support of OWN. And upon graduation from year one of the OWN program, I was afforded the opportunity to study abroad in Morocco. After the summer of 2008, when I left Rabat, I actually cut off most of my hair and wore color for the first time in years – worn jeans, a green shirt and white cardigan. And that’s pretty illustrative of my transformation following that experience in Morocco. The trust that I had in myself and my ability to work towards achievable goals by securing that first scholarship became even more evident. With the mentorship I received from the program on how to prepare for what they don’t teach youth in the traditional classroom: national testing and applications to universities, I was enabled to do what may have been otherwise impossible. When I was accepted to the University of Washington, seeing yet another success, my goals grew larger. And I set new goals. First, I wanted to get a degree – instead, I’ve gone on to obtain two. A BA in International Studies at the University of Washington (go huskies), and an MA in International Energy Policy from Sciences Po in France. Second, I wanted to return to the Middle East – I have lived in the Middle East for more than 16 months total. Third, since I graduated from the OWN program in 2008, I wanted to go to DC – I have since spent more than a year in the DC area. And this wide array of incredible experiences has now led me to my dream job, which I started only two months ago. I now work for the Department of Energy right here on Seattle working on next generation technologies. That all started with one opportunity right here in our own backyard. Thank you immensely OneWorld Now! and thank you all for being here today.read more