The NWCCI program hosted seven cohorts of students from 2009 to 2016. Here, on her last day with the program, Associate Director Amanda Fletcher writes to the alumni of the CCI program to thank them for what they taught her.
Dear NWCCI Alumni,
Eight years ago I was filling up my car at a gas station somewhere in Tennessee, just a few hours into a weeklong car trip to a new job in Washington State, when my phone started ringing. Seeing the Washington area code, I motioned to my father and sister to be quiet and then I answered the phone in my most professional voice.
My soon to be new supervisor was on the line, asking if I’d be able to travel to Egypt the next month to participate in orientation for the new CCI students. And that is where I met the first group of you, 34 students in an over air conditioned hotel conference room, raising your hands and asking so many questions (we went an two hours longer than scheduled), most of them some version of your real question – “what’s it going to be like?”
Even now, on my last day working for the program, I would not be able to tell you what it would be like.
In the eight years since, 315 of you have participated in the NWCCI program. On that sweltering day at the Tennessee gas station, I could never have imagined all we would accomplish and learn together.
In the past couple of weeks I’ve spoken to many of you and I have repeatedly been asked what my favorite memories from the CCI program are. There are specific memories I will always remember, like your faces seeing snow for the first time, watching a humpback whale in the Salish Sea, and jumping into the icy cold, glacier fed Skagit River on a rafting trip. But the moments that have changed how I see the world are less picturesque: the conversations we had on long van trips, learning about your families, watching you become families to each other, discovering the Pacific Northwest together.
With every single cohort of students we hosted, I marveled over how you changed during the program. Comparing group pictures from orientation and graduation, you did not look like the same people (go ahead, try your own comparison). These changes are more than cosmetic; new confidence has changed even the way you carry your bodies. I believe this change is something we created together and that it will go on with each of us for the rest of our lives.
Today, I’m comparing myself to the person I was at the start of this journey. And because of you, I am also a changed person. I walk through the world in a new way, asking different questions, connecting ideas in ways I would not have considered before. Because of you I understand my home country in ways I did not before. Because of you I read the news in a new way, knowing that what once seemed like faraway places are now the homes of people I love.
On my last day working for the CCI program I want to extend my deepest thanks to each of you for all of the things you taught me and encourage you to stay in touch with me and the CCI program (see info below) . I want to keep learning about the great things you’re doing!
P.S. I could write a similar love letter to the NWCCI team, my colleagues who became friends and remain inspirations.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The opinions expressed in this blog by writers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Northwest Community College Initiative program, Edmonds Community College, Whatcom Community College, Pierce College, the United States Department of State or any employee thereof. NWCCI and Edmonds Community College are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied by the student bloggers.