Spreading Compassion through Understanding: International Education Week

By Savita Nooreen, CCI Greenheart Exchange Student and Greenheart Club member

Savita Nooreen is a CCI Greenheart exchange student from Pakistan who is currently placed in Freeport, Maine. She is a member of the Greenheart Club and has done 116.5 hours of volunteer service. Savita did many presentations about her country at schools in her community during International Education Week. International Education Week is an initiative of the U.S Department of State and the U.S Department of Education to increase awareness in the United States of the Global Community as well as promote students from abroad to study in the United States. 

So far I am loving each and every moment of my exchange experience. I am taking part in many of community service initiatives and school clubs. During International Education Week I tried to do my best to do as many presentations as I could. Here are my experiences which I want to share with the CCI Greenheart community.

I come from a small town in Pakistan and I am currently placed in a small town of Freeport, Maine. At first I was worried that I lived in a small area because I thought that I would not get many opportunities to do presentations about my country during International Education Week, but once I started doing my presentations I realized that that wouldn’t be a problem. I was able to get 11 opportunities to speak. I loved my International Education Week experience. I went to two schools, Freeport High School and Mt. Ararat middle school, and I also did a few presentations at my own high school.  It surprised me to see kids curiously listening to me, and when my presentations ended, they asked many questions. Although my presentation was only 15 minutes long, I got so many questions from the kids that each presentation ended up lasting one hour!

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I was really happy to hear positive responses from them. One of the seventh graders commented on my presentation saying, “thank you so much for coming today. I loved your presentation. I heard about Pakistan several times on news, and I used to think that Pakistan was a backward place where they had no schools and they only had lots of problems. But now I think it is a beautiful place where people have many of traditions in culture and music. Now I want to visit Pakistan to taste it’s spicy food. Will you take me to the mountains if I come to see you in Pakistan?” I got many more comments like that. It feels so wonderful to see people loving my country just because of my presentations! During International Education Week, I was able to reached out to 200+ people, including a group of special needs children. During free time I did  henna tattoos on student’s hands, because henna is part of my culture. While doing henna, I was able to further discuss my country and culture with the other person. Writing their names in my language and translating some sentences from English to my languages was also a fun. The kids were amazed by my ability to speak three languages.

My host mother also attended one of my presentations and when I came back to home I saw a comment of hers on Facebook where she said:

“Savita presented her beloved country Pakistan to a social studies class at Freeport middle school. I was only able to stay there for a few minutes as I had to leave for work but what I saw was insightful, very interesting and presented by a professional and intelligent young lady. For someone so young she is mature beyond her years. Her presentation was so engaging–I know everyone enjoyed it. Thank you Savita for opening our eyes about such a beautiful country. P.S she is a little girl with the biggest smile you have eve seen.”

This made me feel so loved that I became very joyful and emotional. I felt proud of myself for the first time. I also present Pakistan on each Tuesday for the amnesty club at my school. I represent the people of Pakistan. I explain what they think of the current situations in Pakistan and in other places as well. In fact, I think that each and every exchange student does not need any particular day to present their country because we are representing our countries each and every second through our actions, words and behavior.

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I think that it doesn’t necessarily matter how many presentations you give, but it does matter that the people you teach about your country learn from what you say and can spread their new understanding to those people around them.

After all these things, I noticed a great change in myself. As English is my third language, I used to not speak English fluently, but while I was presenting today, especially when I was answering to the kids, I found myself speaking English easily. Words were automatically running out of my mouth! That surprised me and I was really happy and satisfied with myself. These presentations are also influencing me. With each presentation I can feel my self confidence grow more and more.

Thanks CCI Greenheart and iEARN Pakistan for giving me such a wonderful opportunity to visit the USA and to represent my country.

Hopefully I will make you proud 🙂

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