Cultural Immersion and Personal Growth through International Education


To celebrate International Education Day, we are highlighting our many inspiring alumni from our Study of U.S. Institutes (SUSI) for Global Student Leaders program. Through partnerships with five U.S. universities and a series of interactive classroom activities, community-based projects and site visits to U.S. cities of all sizes, SUSI students experience an in-depth investigation into program themes and enhance their understanding of American values. Fábio Moisés Komba spoke with Meridian’s Center for Global Leadership to reflect on his experience and its impact. 

This year’s International Day of Education theme is, “Changing Course, Transforming Education.” How has participating in SUSI so far transformed your life, career, or education? Do you anticipate new opportunities arising from this experience?

My experience at SUSI has been full, unique and very motivating and my participation has paid off so far. When I was selected, I received a lot of support from my community, my university and even online magazines announced my participation. But despite the attention, what impacted me the most was seeing people feel inspired and motivated to follow the same path as me which has always been my goal — to inspire people with my actions and make a better world. The program was an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and to learn more from people on the other side of the world.

Connecting with the world is essential these days and SUSI is a beautiful way to go for that.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted education in your area? How have you given back, or helped build connections or roadmaps for today’s students?

The COVID-19 pandemic has been global chaos. In my country, education has not been able to function regularly due to the constant emergence of new variants. At the beginning of the pandemic, we stayed at home for eight months without studying and unable to leave the house. The government tried to guide schools to teach online classes, but the measure was not successful because in our country not everyone has access to electricity and internet. With the recent emergence of Omicron, we were back at home for two weeks, but luckily the cases reduced, and we were able to return to studying. I find the best way to help my community during this phase is through information sharing. I do my best to spread information on my social media that can help students in their academic life and help guide those who seek my attention out.

In applying to the SUSI program, were there any aspects of the SUSI opportunity that inspired or motivated you to apply?

There were many aspects that motivated me to participate in the SUSI program. The first being the possibility of studying at a U.S. university which has always been an academic dream of mine. It means a lot to interact with the best professors in the world and share knowledge with students from different countries, even for a short period of time. Additionally, I was motivated by the possibility of traveling to the U.S., being in Washington, D.C., visiting the White House and the Capitol. . .places that I have only read about or seen in movies. Besides those motivations, the exchange itself is so inspiring as it provides access to a new world capable of changing me enough to be able to change my community as well.

What advice would you give the next generation about pursuing education through international exchanges?

Grab this opportunity, run after it and do it. It is a unique experience; it will mark your curriculum and your lives. You will leave this experience as a new and more qualified person with global contacts and friends from different parts of the world. It will change your life.

Why is international education important for creating the qualities of a great leader?

An international education is a unique experience capable of changing our life and turn us in better leaders mainly due to three aspects:

  1. Contact with another culture: No culture is the same, no matter how similar they look. Understanding different ways of life is essential to exercise tolerance and immersion in a new culture brings great lessons and inspirations.
  2. Personal growth: An international program increases your ability to solve your problems alone, deal with unforeseen circumstances and situations. Being away from the comfort of home is also a great opportunity to develop self-knowledge, as knowing other ways of thinking is certainly something that makes you reflect on your own ways.
  3. Expanding the network of contacts: Studying abroad puts you in touch with a world of different possibilities and people. A brief exchange experience can guarantee good contacts in all corners of the world.