Inspired and enriched

 

During the summer of 2019, I had the opportunity to represent The Netherlands in the Study of the United States Institutes for Student Leaders. I attended the program ‘Youth, Education and Closing the Skills Gap’ at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, which brought together 20 students from 17 different countries. There are not enough words to describe this unique experience, the unforgettable memories and new friends I have made.

After I said my goodbyes to my family, my adventure officially began! Beforehand, I decided to meet up with my fellow participants at Schiphol Airport. We flew to The United States and arrived safely in Boston. The first four weeks were mainly spent at the campus of UMass Boston. Meanwhile, we followed interdisciplinary courses about European and American approaches to education, technological innovation, leadership, project management and skills development. We had the opportunity to meet leaders in the field of education and technological innovation, volunteered at an educational program for scholars with a low social economic status and had study trips to places such as Harvard Microbiology Laboratory, Northeastern University and Mathworks. All of this, in order to enhance the debate on how to be optimally prepared for the future workforce.

Not only did we have cultural visits planned out in the program, but also during our free time we decided to explore Massachusetts. One day, we even traveled to New York City for a day trip to visit the famous tourist attractions. But after four amazing weeks, our time in Boston came to an end. We flew to Boca Raton, attended classes at Florida Atlantic University and visited the Everglades. A completely different vibe and environment compared to Boston. In Washington D.C, we got the opportunity to connect with the participants from the other programs and eventually, we presented our Capstone project in front of the representative of the U.S. Department of State.

I must say, it was a very intense program, but every minute was absolutely worth it! I wish I could go back in time and experience this all over again. It is surprising how close you could become to people you have only known for 5 weeks. The experience of being an American student and all the great memories I made during the program, I will treasure them for sure. This program has definitely helped me grow as a person. It broadened my view on the different approaches and access to education and it made me appreciate the fact that I have good access to education even more. I was delighted to take part in the discussions and share my viewpoints on how to fill in the skills gap. After connecting with great leaders, inspiring students from all over the world and a taste of the American culture, I feel enriched with a very exclusive experience.