10. Name a misconception you had before the program, and was cleared post IYLEP.
By Noor O. Zeki, IYLEP 2014, Exchange 2
Before going to the USA we had a lot of stereotypes of how the Americans would be and how things are gonna be, even how we thought we gonna be treated - the stereotypes turned to be a big misconception. We thought that Americans were kinda cold, maybe rude a bit because of what we see on TV and social media. We thought that our relationship with the staff members would be kinda like a teacher-student thing, like at school where it doesn’t matter how close you get to the teachers they will always treat you like kids. We were worried that, considering where we came from, we might get a bit of a ‘cold-shoulder’ from the people there. We had a lot of ideas and thoughts but most, especially the negative ones, turned out to be wrong. The Americans were really nice, they loved to laugh and help and I only got the misfortune to meet only one rude person but you have people like this everywhere.and as for the staff, I remember asking Becca for a hug on the first night there then kinda doing a mental facepalm because I thought that was totally creepy and she would freak out but she was actually really nice about it and gave me a big hug (that hug GMH), through out the month I felt closer to the staff members than my family whom I’ve been living with for the past 17 years. They never treated us like kids, they tried to learn as much as they taught. They made us feel special an worthy because they wanted to listen to us and coaxed us to share our ideas and never dismissed any idea as something silly or stupid. They took every idea we had as if it was something really, well, interesting or important. And despite what we thought, no one freaked out because we are from Iraq. Mostly, they would ask us how are things in Iraq and if it is really as they see on TV. Some even felt sorry for what happened to us after the invasion which was totally unexpected for us. And a lot of other stereotypes were cleared as well and now I feel a bit stupid that I ever believed these stereotypes.

10. Name a misconception you had before the program, and was cleared post IYLEP.

By Noor O. Zeki, IYLEP 2014, Exchange 2

Before going to the USA we had a lot of stereotypes of how the Americans would be and how things are gonna be, even how we thought we gonna be treated - the stereotypes turned to be a big misconception. We thought that Americans were kinda cold, maybe rude a bit because of what we see on TV and social media. We thought that our relationship with the staff members would be kinda like a teacher-student thing, like at school where it doesn’t matter how close you get to the teachers they will always treat you like kids. We were worried that, considering where we came from, we might get a bit of a ‘cold-shoulder’ from the people there. We had a lot of ideas and thoughts but most, especially the negative ones, turned out to be wrong. The Americans were really nice, they loved to laugh and help and I only got the misfortune to meet only one rude person but you have people like this everywhere.and as for the staff, I remember asking Becca for a hug on the first night there then kinda doing a mental facepalm because I thought that was totally creepy and she would freak out but she was actually really nice about it and gave me a big hug (that hug GMH), through out the month I felt closer to the staff members than my family whom I’ve been living with for the past 17 years. They never treated us like kids, they tried to learn as much as they taught. They made us feel special an worthy because they wanted to listen to us and coaxed us to share our ideas and never dismissed any idea as something silly or stupid. They took every idea we had as if it was something really, well, interesting or important. And despite what we thought, no one freaked out because we are from Iraq. Mostly, they would ask us how are things in Iraq and if it is really as they see on TV. Some even felt sorry for what happened to us after the invasion which was totally unexpected for us. And a lot of other stereotypes were cleared as well and now I feel a bit stupid that I ever believed these stereotypes.

5. What are some things that are helping you adjust to being home?
By Noor O., IYLEP 2014, Exchange 2
Although we thought that keeping in touch would help us adjust better but I found that it made it harder for me so I opt for the opposite - being alone and staying away from social media. I tried to busy myself with other stuff; reading or something. I stayed away from Facebook and all because everytime someone posts a photo or a post everything comes back and it becomes harder to adjust. Isolating myself helped me stay connecting to the present instead of trying to live in the past, you know? I know is tempting to talk to all these people and cry with them but it did me no good and I ran out of things to say  other than the same memories after a while..or maybe I’m just a loner but eh, this is what I did.

5. What are some things that are helping you adjust to being home?

By Noor O., IYLEP 2014, Exchange 2

Although we thought that keeping in touch would help us adjust better but I found that it made it harder for me so I opt for the opposite - being alone and staying away from social media. I tried to busy myself with other stuff; reading or something. I stayed away from Facebook and all because everytime someone posts a photo or a post everything comes back and it becomes harder to adjust. Isolating myself helped me stay connecting to the present instead of trying to live in the past, you know? I know is tempting to talk to all these people and cry with them but it did me no good and I ran out of things to say  other than the same memories after a while..or maybe I’m just a loner but eh, this is what I did.

2014 IYLEPers on Exchange 2 gather at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC for their very own portrait.
By Ali Muhammed, 2014 IYLEP Participant, Exchange 2
After a lot of thinking, I realized that at a lot of times, you don’t know the value of what you are, where you are, what is happening around you and the people around you.The quick events and the brilliance of the place distract you from thinking. Unfortunately, or I think of it as stupidly, throughout the whole trip, I did not lay down and think of what was happening for even ten minutes. I was telling myself that I have to live the moment and don’t waste my time thinking and that is the thing I am most regretful about. It might seem logical that you are there for only one month and just live the moment, but if time goes back and I start over the trip, I will be simply different!! The reason is I came back and started thinking of everything I did. The conclusion was I wasted a lot of time and chances. I did not really realize what was happening. I did not know the real value of the people around me. I did not really know how much lucky I was. The only thing I wish I could have right now is a time machine. But MAYBE that’s the nature of human beings. Though, IYLEP is and will forever be the best thing that happened to me.

2014 IYLEPers on Exchange 2 gather at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC for their very own portrait.

By Ali Muhammed, 2014 IYLEP Participant, Exchange 2

After a lot of thinking, I realized that at a lot of times, you don’t know the value of what you are, where you are, what is happening around you and the people around you.The quick events and the brilliance of the place distract you from thinking. Unfortunately, or I think of it as stupidly, throughout the whole trip, I did not lay down and think of what was happening for even ten minutes. I was telling myself that I have to live the moment and don’t waste my time thinking and that is the thing I am most regretful about. It might seem logical that you are there for only one month and just live the moment, but if time goes back and I start over the trip, I will be simply different!! The reason is I came back and started thinking of everything I did. The conclusion was I wasted a lot of time and chances. I did not really realize what was happening. I did not know the real value of the people around me. I did not really know how much lucky I was. The only thing I wish I could have right now is a time machine. But MAYBE that’s the nature of human beings. Though, IYLEP is and will forever be the best thing that happened to me.

3. Have you experienced any reverse culture shock upon returning home? If so, explain.

By Noor O, IYLEP 2014, Exchange 2

Yes, gosh, I did and it is awful. It starts when you leave the USA and realize that you won’t be seeing these people anymore but you try to reassure yourself that you still have your old friends and your family back at home. Then once you are back at home, you realize that these people who you thought will make you feel better can’t do that, your friends don’t want to listen to your stories and your family don’t understand what happened to you and the change in you. You start to try and not talk about what happened until it becomes your little secret, a secret that you can’t share with anyone because no one will understand it. The secret slowly turns into some kind of a dream, something unreal. You freak out and start going through your photos everyday trying to prevent it from turning into a dream but then your present is the one that turns into something unreal. You freak out even more because nothing seems real anymore so you decide to forget one of them and since you can’t forget your present then you start to forget your secret but it freaks you out, too, because you don’t wanna forget the one month where you felt alive and the one month that is better than your whole life..but you can’t live like this, torn between two things. It takes a lot of time, more than a month for me and maybe less or more for you, when you start to find a balance between the two, it is still a secret and it still seems unreal sometimes but you are not trying to forget it and it is not making you cry everyday. Would this ever end? No, I don’t think so, it will always be like this. We will always remember it and ache for the memories that we could never live again and cry for it but we are living the present and we can move on and work toward making something or achieving something that is even better than this experience (though I doubt there would be something better but we try to assure ourselves that the best is yet to come).

9. What is a “life lesson” you learned on IYLEP?

By Noor O, IYLEP 2014, Exchange 2

My life lesson was my ‘self worth’ and I’d like to imagine that I learned that lesson well, maybe not fully but at least to some level. Self worth is to know who you are and what you are capable of, that you are worth it just as every other person. That you have ideas and opinions that matters just an any other person. I learned my self worth as a person and as a teenager. I was always told there that if I want to take care of others then I have to take care of myself first and it kinda got stuck in my head, making me realize that as much as I gave room for others that I should give room to myself as well, that what I’ve got to say is as worthy as what they are going to say. To realize yourself worth it to realize your rule in this world, in your community. To realize that you, as a person, has a lot to offer and it is as important as what everyone has to offer. While to realize your self worth as a teenager is to realize that you are capable of everything despite your age, that you don’t have to be forty-something with a lot of a money and a big company to be able to make something worthy in your community, that our rule in this community as teenagers is as important as everyone. In our society, you are often bullied or hated of acknowledging your self worth.

this place taught me that showing your weakness will make you strong.
i learned that the biggest tree can be from the smallest seed
i now know how to love and live… how to forgive and forget
but that month of july I will never forget
that one family that will never be apart ,apart by place but not in the heartsharing love and hate, I now want to be a better man and I won’t hesitate
50 candles that night were lit, so strong it burnt my heart, I admitour big circle will not shrink, my heart is the paper and you are the ink
that paper was just plain, but now it’s filled with feeling i never thought i would gainI loved everyone that I saw, they will always be in my heart from dusk to dawnour big family will not faint away, i’m sure we will all be together someday
even if we might not see each other again, i will support you from my heart and pray for you, amen.

this place taught me that showing your weakness will make you strong.

i learned that the biggest tree can be from the smallest seed

i now know how to love and live… how to forgive and forget

but that month of july I will never forget

that one family that will never be apart ,apart by place but not in the heart
sharing love and hate, I now want to be a better man and I won’t hesitate

50 candles that night were lit, so strong it burnt my heart, I admit
our big circle will not shrink, my heart is the paper and you are the ink

that paper was just plain, but now it’s filled with feeling i never thought i would gain
I loved everyone that I saw, they will always be in my heart from dusk to dawn
our big family will not faint away, i’m sure we will all be together someday

even if we might not see each other again, i will support you from my heart and pray for you, amen.

BEST PICTURE OF IYLEP

hi 
this picture is the best picture I have in USA 
it was taken in Vermont , July 5th 2014. we had this group dialogue with the Governors Institute students. the staff put us on groups and gave is some questions to discuss. like 
1. what dose your name means 
2. name one misconception you have about USA and Iraq 
3. learn some words in Arabic and new words on English. 
and we also answered some question the American teenagers have about us.  it was a great day we learned a lot from each other. 
the   people in this picture from left are: Vanessa , Evette, Elaf, Emma, Nag , ME, Keith , Dania.
the people in this picture from left are: Vanessa , Evette, Elaf, Emma, Nag , ME, Keith , Dania.
By; Ali Alsalemi

DYLC prompt 3. Have you experienced any reverse culture shock upon returning home?

BY: Muntadher Alsaeed

I haven’t faced any culture shock in USA or even in Iraq ! I really love my country and I feel like I belong to here to this community , ! but i really miss my great friends that i met in IYLEP i don’t know if that is a culture shock but i really miss every single moment that i spent with them :) !

prompt 2. How do you feel now that the program has come to an end?

BY: Muntadher Alsaeed

Actually my first feeling is I really miss my great friends all the IYLEPers exchange 2 we were just like a family !

when i see my certificate i feel very grateful :) ! i feel like i did learn something good :) and from yesterday i did start to teach my friends what i learned in IYLEP :)

IYLEP really inspired me to do something good to make a change in my life and in my community i feel more responsible now and i started to some simple projects :)

So thanks for IYLEP and Thanks for my friends in IYLEP :)

7. Is there a quote or expression that relates to your IYLEP experience? Make a “Meme” of it or share the quote.

“If you lived through it, you already know there are no words that will ever come close to describing it. And if you didn’t, you will never understand.” - The Storyteller, Jodi Picoult