written by Exan Sharief from the Philippines
The YSEALI Professional Fellowship Program on Economic Empowerment opened many wonderful beginnings in both my professional and personal life.
I was more than excited to put my feet and leave an impressive mark on the land of freedom or most of the times called as the land of dreams and opportunities. Starting with the orientation at Washington DC, I was profoundly inspired how the American Councils have started engaging these young leaders from different parts of the world into understanding the American culture and eventually bring home lessons learned. Very significantly, I felt the genuine welcome and the sincere interest to foster connectivity among these young leaders, more especially with the American government in terms of sharing best practices and applying them in the home country. I could not believe my eyes when I finally got inside the US Capitol and got as close as I can to the White House and even jogged around the Washington Monument. More than the sightseeing, I was impressed with the historical significance of bearing the “E Pluribus Unum” at the Capitol. This essential principles that built America is so valuable that I had to ask a taxi driver how does he lives the American dream.
When the work placement to Hawaii finally surfaced my thinking after a long flight, I felt home in that feeling of happiness and sense of belonging in living the American dream. In Hawaii, I’ve met and talked with quite a number of Asian Americans who have consistently told me how they found unity in diversity. It is that one solid purpose of being a nation rather than being a single individual that struck my interest. Immersing myself further, I truly appreciate the kindness shown by the people as manifested on simple greetings of hello from a neighbor to another. On a positive note, I learned how to be independent despite living with a host family. I am just so overwhelmed with the positivity shown within and outside my workplace. There’s that forward mentality to do things best and improve on candid suggestions rather than repel them with a heavy heart. A little far from what I’m used to at my home country but I am hopeful that all this learning will have to be replicated as soon as I get back.
I have always believed in the Aloha spirit that is profusely embodied in the US Declaration of Independence stating, among others, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.