Are you considering exchange programs but unsure if it’s the right experience for you? Do you need some feedback and learning experiences?
We must have as many changing experiences as possible throughout our life. In my case, I had some that I am delighted to share in different articles:
- Extra curriculum activities during my engineering study (President of EMI-Entreprises Forum)
- Being an employee in various organizations (size, industry, and mission…)
- Solo traveling to a foreign country (Euro trip 2015, US tour 2021)
- International volunteering experiences (Atlas Corps )
- Community Services
This article concerns exchange programs and my experience as a Professional Fellows Program on Civic Engagement in 2018.
During my Journey, different opportunities, experiences, and meetings helped me reshape my path and purpose. impactdots.com atlaspreneur.com consomy.com and citizenup.co are one of the outcomes of many life-changing experiences, and exchange programs are one of them.
What is US Professional Fellows Program (PFP)?
The Professional Fellows Program (PFP) is a two-way, global exchange program designed to promote mutual understanding, enhance leadership and professional skills, and build lasting, sustainable partnerships between mid-level emerging leaders from foreign countries and the United States.
PFP participants are placed in intensive 5-6 week fellowships in non-profit organizations, private sector businesses, and government offices across the United States for an individually tailored professional development experience. They build a broad network with American and other program participant colleagues as they develop a deeper understanding of U.S. society.
The PFP is a two-way exchange with American participants who have hosted foreign fellows traveling overseas for participant-driven reciprocal programs.
My Outcomes from exchange programs
Knowledge and Learnings
For a curious mind like mine, always seeking new ideas, knowledge, initiatives, and sharing experiences: the first week of our Professional Fellows Program was like being in a “wonderland”: Everything was organized with excellency due to the great effort and preparation of Institute for Training and Development team (the local organization in charge of our group), to make our experience and stay the best possible.
Results: immersion from day1 into American society, great lectures and sessions about the US System of government, social movements, the power of language, and democratic thought in the US, then a great sharing session with Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, a real catalyst of community development in Massachusetts.
I had the opportunity to serve at Franklin County Community Development Corporation for 4 weeks.
Headquartered in Greenfield, Massachusetts, the Franklin County Community Development Corporation (FCCDC) is an economic development nonprofit organization providing comprehensive business development education, access to capital, commercial office, and manufacturing space, plus the home of the Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center.
As a fellow, I had the opportunity to support the Franklin County Community Development Corporation and attend several strategic meetings with different stakeholders, board meetings with partners and attend many events.
I often found myself in a middle of a dedicated, diverse group of individuals and organizations to solve different social issues and raise people’s awareness through many projects and initiatives.
I was honored to meet Jessica Atwood, Economic Development Program Manager of Franklin Regional Council of Governments, at a very insightful meeting on how the council is an expertise-shared resources entity regarding economic, social, logistic, and financial development at a regional level.
The meeting was an excellent opportunity to have a profound overview of how citizen affairs are managed at a local, federal and national level and a mutual discussion on Community & Economic Development and Civic Engagement.
“Youth Lead, Adults support” best describes what Matt Allen, youth Program manager, and all Community Action members did and do for youth.
From youth & Women empowerment to Comunity Services, Mental Health, family support, and Minority inclusion, the meeting was an excellent opportunity to share mutual experiences and learnings and to understand the Community Action mission, programs, stakeholders, and youth involvement & Volunteering.
Also, I was delighted to visit the Massachusetts State House, honored to attend a policy council quarterly meeting and meet Steve Kulikov, representative of Franklin county, and many other representatives, commissioners, and executive directors.
US Professional Program concludes with a 3-day “Professional Fellows Congress” in Washington, DC. This event will bring together approximately 350 fellows from around the world. Fellows will have the opportunity to build relationships with fellows from dozens of countries and learn practical leadership tools.
It was another excellent opportunity to learn from high-level speakers and program alumni. But also to connect and make new friends from around the world.
US Professional Fellows Program is not only about discovering the US System of governance, democracy, political, economic & Social Affairs, American citizens, and global challenges, but also an excellent opportunity to exchange about our mutual identities and cultures.
During a weekend, I had the great pleasure of being hosted by a three generations American Jewish family. What a fantastic opportunity to share, understand, and discover more about our mutual backgrounds, play games, cook and show the beauty of Morocco food, and have fun as one family. We also had the opportunity to discuss some of the critical topics in the world locally, regionally, and internationally.
As you participate in an exchange program, you spontaneously become an ambassador of your country. A huge responsibility and opportunity to represent the roots you belong to.
Living in Massachusetts, Visiting Washington DC and New York was an amazing opportunity to discover on the ground the history of American society by meetings locals, attending events, and visiting museums and city landmarks.
On a personal note, I took the opportunity to be in New york city to achieve one of my American dreams: Attending an American play in a Broadway Theatre. It was my lucky day as the leading actor was one of my favorites: Keery Washington.
Exchange programs: One Advice
You want to apply for an exchange program. I have one and only one piece of advice for you.
Before sharing my advice with you, Let me ask you a question: What is your story? I am not talking about your drama story. I am asking what you achieved, what you are committed to, and what challenges you overcame. Answer this question genuinely, and you will open door to many opportunities.
I have seen many youths not getting accepted in different exchange programs because they invent stories instead of sharing the story they have been creating for many months and maybe years.
I do believe that the success formula is simply opportunity meeting preparation. Never wait for the opportunity to work on it. Find your purpose, solve issues, and engage in volunteering. Do this, and opportunities will chase you…
The Next Level
Today, while I am writing those words, I am out of the scope of many exchange programs due to my age (even though I would love to participate in many others, and I wish I had known about those exchanges earlier).
The story could end here. But as an aspiring servant leader, I am committed to inspiring, empowering, and opening doors for other youth to know, apply, and participate in many exchange programs as possible… and it’s already in action.
Content Creation and Ecosystem Building are my new post covid purposes. I want to reach people beyond my network and connect with like-minded people. I hope that this article will inspire you to apply to exchange programs and/or encourage your friends and network to do, especially youth.
The website you are visiting was created with a mission: “Put your mind into action, be better, grow, achieve more, and make an impact.” by sharing guides, tools, and resources to do it.
But, what’s better than leading by example and Shemcy in one of them
Shemcy platform helps you to take a “Step Towards your Future” by learning from past experiences, preparing for present opportunities, and empowering future skills through practical guides, resources, and effective tools.
Visiting the USA was a child’s dream… (spoil alert, it was my first time, but not the last one)
I am not competing against anyone except myself. I am not looking to impress or to prove anything to anyone except that I am better than my yesterday version. I am doing everything with love and trust, and I am very grateful to all the beautiful souls around the world who trust me and my dreams and purposes, and one of them is to serve with humility, courage, and discipline…
Thanks to the US Embassy, U.S. Department of State, Institute for Training and Development, SimSim-Participation Citoyenne, and last but not least, Franklin County CDC for the great experience, insightful learnings that I acquired, and amazing people & great community leaders that I got to meet during my six weeks and last but not least be part of the terrific Professional Fellows Family.
Thank you for taking the time to read this piece of content, a chapter from my life-changing experiences book.