IYLEP Blog Contest: The land of dreams

Zainab Jassim (center right) and fellow IYLEP students with UMass staff member, Mohammed Elghoul


Alumni of the 2013 Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program reconnected this winter in Erbil. Alums from both the High School and Undergraduate programs gathered to reflect on their experiences and participate in workshops and panel discussions that built upon the skills students developed last summer in the U.S. Meridian invited IYLEP alumni to submit a blog post describing their personal experience and growth with the program. We selected the winning entries to post on The LEAD.

The land of dreams. That’s what goes through anyone’s mind when he or she arrives in the USA. The IYLEP was our own, unique experience in the USA. To be there as one hundred students in an exchange program was the most wonderful chance in our lives. Everyone told me that I was so lucky because I was accepted from the first time I applied. I took my acceptance as a great opportunity to see a new world, to know, learn, and participate in teamwork one way or another. From the first time we met our friends, professors, and mentors, I was so happy because I had a lot of American people around us so I could communicate with them all the time in English, learn from them, and tell them about our amazing culture. The thing that I really loved about Americans is that they are kind, helpful, and really open-minded so they can accept any person from any culture.

Starting with our lectures, which were based on leadership, public policy, and public health, we gained a lot of informations which can help us in our life and society. Responsibility, self confident, leading, and teamwork were the most important characteristics we learned from working as individuals and in groups. Back in Massachusetts we had an intensive program with a lot of activities. One of them was called “Meals on Wheels”, where each group took the food to senior citizens. That was the most amazing thing we ever did; when we gave them the food they started hugging us and they were really happy to see us.

Also, seeing a developed country with new technology gave us a new meaning of a better future for our own country. Learning about this technology showed us a path to rebuild Iraq. If we think for a while about how to take advantage of all this and use it in a good way, it will give us a perfect results.

It was also really wonderful to visit Baystate Hospital in Springfield, where they told us that they are trying to make the hospital as a home for the patients. The children’s section was the most interesting thing I saw because it was so colorful and give you the spirit of joy. As I am in medical school, I wish by working hard to have the same thing in my city because that will be more comfortable for each person. The most important thing in every country is the people’s health. By having healthy, strong individuals we will be able to develop and build our country faster.

Investing all these powers in my country and supporting them will create maximum development. I am just waiting to graduate to start applying these things In my medical field–of course by co-operating with my friends and other doctors. Each successful project must have the idea, the place, the money, and the members. All these must be done within a short period of time. Even if it will take a long time to achieve success, we can still know that we are going in the right direction.

IYLEP gave me more than I could ever imagine. My experience continues to give me more and more ideas, and I wish to put them into action as possible. So, IYLEP, thank you from the bottom of my heart.