Mohid Weekly – Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship (4) – das Finale!

Monday morning, we said goodbye to our host families. Soon we went to Philadelphia. We drove about 15 hours by bus, of course small breaks were included. Arrived hungry and tired, we ate in a restaurant. I think that’s where our Philly adventure began. I don’t know if the food tasted good to others, but my table received special meal (friends who sat with me know what I’m talking about). Then we went to the HOTEL!

So, at this point there is a lot to tell: I shared my room with my previous Roommate. I must admit my room was really good. To ensure the safety of all Fellows, we decided to stay in groups and so it was. For example, 1 room, 2 beds and 8 people. Actually, a lot happened that evening, but I want to keep it as short as possible. In my opinion, that evening was very adventurous. All Fellows know what I’m talking about.

The next day we went to the Hop on Hop off Philly Tour. All the most important and historical sites, including Ben Franklin House and National Constitution Center, were visited. In my free time, I went to Chinatown with my friends. It is a recommendation. After our wonderful day we drove to D.C. We resided at Georgetown University.  Again, you had to stay with your old Roommate (my best friend).

The next day, Wednesday, we went to the US Capitol. There we had a cool tour. After that, we were in the Holocaust Museum. It’s the best museum I’ve ever visited. Again, small groups formed and went to the sights: Washington Memorial, White House, Hard Rock Cafe, FBI Headquarters, etc.. We got to campus late in the evening, but with obstacles (Google Maps; the people, who were with me, know).

The next day was very important because we had a meeting at the US Department of State. We met the people who made BFTF possible. We also had talks with diplomats and ambassadors. After the event we went to the Kennedy Center to see the performance of Blue Man Group. A great action. Friday, the last day in both D.C. and the USA. Each of us made good use of the day to do everything that needs to be done. Lincoln Memorial, Ford’s Theater (where President was shot), Smithsonian National Museum of American History, National Museum of Natural History, Shopping Center, and DC Walking Tour. If I had to rank the cities, I would put DC at number 1 spot. The city has so much to offer that it would take days to discover the whole city.

The last three nights we hardly slept, because firstly everyone wanted to spend time with others and secondly everyone created a friend-book in which everyone must write. Now imagine when 53 people write in all notebooks. That takes plenty of energy. Friday evening and Saturday morning, two of our friends left. At this point, everyone felt what was to come. Then in DC, when the group split up, our emotions overwhelmed us. Hugs, messages in the ears, holding hands, all this could be seen by the people at the airport. After the group split up again in Frankfurt, nothing changed in the situation.

Now I want to mention two things, that I forgot to do in my last blogs. In the first two weeks of BFTF we had this early 15 minutes session of „Uncle Ben says“. In this time, you learn something special about Ben Franklin. We had to interpret one of his quotes and associate it with our program or learn about his virtues.

The second thing is: OUR basement. Yes, I literally mean our basement. After 11 o´clock all boys would gather there and play cards, watch movies, discuss some philosophical topics (I´m serious) and some other stuff (Boys know). After a while other BFTF Fellows took over our basement and we had to share it. Basically, there were nights we didn´t sleep at all. We would talk till 7 in the morning.

What BFTF has taught me?

Well, it´s easy to explain this to someone in a conversation. Writing it down is difficult.
First of all, Asta, one of our mentors, told us on the very first day: “Get out of your comfort zone.” I believe my comfort zone has expanded. My mindset has changed. My perspectives have changed. The way I see the world has changed. Every mentor has contributed to make that happen. Therefore, I thank them from the bottom of my heart.“

Now I would like to talk about 52 amazing, extraordinary, creative people. While writing I´m thinking about where to start. These people have become my best friends, although I´ve met them 4 weeks ago. I´ve learned about them so much. Their strengths and weaknesses, personalities, emotions, etc. They also contributed to my growth, and they played an essential part.

There are people you get along with better than anyone else. I´m not going to mention their name, however they´ll know, if they feel the same: You have shown me the path, you annoyed me, you made me laugh, you assisted me always, you had a great conversation with me, you expressed your concerns and feelings to me and you gave me hope that one day you and I will meet again.

Last but not least it´s not a goodbye, but it´s a SEE YOU SOON.

“No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other´s worth.”

Credits:

I would like to thank START Scholarship program for recommending me for this fantastic exchange program. In addition, a big thank you goes to the US Embassy Vienna, who gave everything to get me to this program.

Mohid Weekly – Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship (3)

Bericht von START-Wien Stipendiat Mohid von seinem USA-Aufenthalt im Rahmen des Benjamin Franklin Fellowship Programs 2022.

Vielen Dank an die US Embassy Vienna für die bereits langjährige Ermöglichung und Unterstützung der Teilnahme von START-Stipendiat:innen bei diesem einzigartigen Programm!

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A new module started with the new week: Media and Journalism. This only lasted two days, but was very rich in content and intense. What is disinformation? What is fake news? How do I manipulate images? These issues were discussed in detail. What I found very exciting was thinking about how the media can overthrow or support democracies. After class, my host mom took me to Mackey Arena, Purdue University’s basketball arena. It was gigantic! The Purdue basketball team has received countless trophies and medals. Top players have played for it. The International Food Night took place on Tuesday evening. After much deliberation, I decided to bake a chocolate cake. I had never baked before and when I presented the cake nobody believed me that I did it. My friends thought that I bought it from the supermarket and finally presented them. I assume that was a compliment. My colleagues had created chaos in the kitchen. I prepared my cake the night before, but they started three hours before dinner! After the event we had to clean the entire kitchen together and put things in order. The BFTF Fellows know who was in command of this work

Not just me, but everyone was looking forward to the next day because we had a Chicago tour ahead of us. Our city tour started with a boat tour on the Chicago River. During this, the tour guide told us about the architecture of different skyscrapers. It was admirable. Just unbelievable. To make the Chicago experience even more memorable, I ate deep dish pizza with my friends. Total overwhelm. Afterwards we went to the famous Navy Pier. From the drop tower I could see the infinity of Lake Michigan. I must admit, that’s when I felt like I’d arrived in America. I had a great day and the next was physically demanding. Because it was about the Community Service Day. The Fellows were led to the shelter of homeless people. Here we had to split up into groups and do different activities, such as collecting garbage, painting walls, etc. My team was responsible for cutting the bushes. And again, I’ve never done this before. I love it when BFTF encourages fellows to do what they’ve never done before. In the evening, my host family took me to a bison park. We even fed them! Welcome to America.

The Fellows had been preparing for their project presentation for days. One of the goals of this institute is to inspire fellows to identify a problem in their society and then develop a solution. One has to present this. If this is convincing, you will receive an amount to complete the project. Working in a group is appreciated. In the evening a friend asked me if I could join her and others for roller skating. It was a roller-skating hall with music, but darkened and disco lights appearing from somewhere. I had no prior roller-skating experience. Luckily a friend helped me and suddenly I could! It was an unforgettable evening. Thanks to everyone who took part.

Since my host mom makes sure I have a wonderful American experience, she took me to the cinema, but not a regular one, but a drive-in. That means there is a big screen outside, and you sit in the car and watch the film. The reason I value my host family is because they cater to my needs. On Sunday, the last day, she showed us Ross-Ade Stadium, well-known in Indiana for American football. And here comes the best part: we got to visit a synagogue. Because I am interested in Jewish culture, I expressed this wish and was able to ask the rabbi several questions. I also gained a lot of knowledge. Like the last two weeks, I enjoyed this week too.

My Norwegian friend asked me to mention her on this blog. Well, she’s the nicest person I’ve met. Very intelligent and creative. It will be fun with you in Philly and DC!

Mohid Weekly – Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship (2)

Bericht von START-Wien Stipendiat Mohid von seinem USA-Aufenthalt im Rahmen des Benjamin Franklin Fellowship Programs 2022.

Vielen Dank an die US Embassy Vienna für die bereits langjährige Ermöglichung und Unterstützung der Teilnahme von START-Stipendiat:innen bei diesem einzigartigen Programm!

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The weekend was long. And then we got to see the Fourth of July fireworks. A dark sky full of colourful fireworks. Red, blue, white, green, violet. All colours. The moment was made even more significant because I had my best friends with me. I must admit that this experience is not to be forgotten and is one of the most beautiful moments of my life. Next up was the class I’ve been waiting for a very long time: International Relations and Diplomacy. I enjoyed the next three to four days. Relationship between the West and Russia. Emerging great powers like India and China. National and international terrorism. All of that has been discussed. The most exciting task for me was when we were supposed to “invent” new nations. The Fellows have been particularly creative. In addition, we visited the Black Cultural Center, located on the Purdue campus. It was about the history of African Americans, who attended Purdue University and made essential contributions to society. During the week, the mentors prepared a quiz in the evening. Questions on topics such as cinema, history and music have come. Purdue University has a nickname: The Boilermakers. There is also a train called The Boilermakers Special that runs through the campus. Fellows had the opportunity to take a ride on it.

Well, BFTF encourages young people to get out of their comfort zone and expand their horizons. I did for the first time what I never thought about. I thought I wasn’t made for this. The Talent Show is part of the program. Fellows demonstrate their talent. I had no idea what to do (that doesn’t mean I’m not talented, 😉). One afternoon, a fellow approached me. She wanted to do a dance performance and needed one person. After much hesitation, she persuaded me. Surprisingly, everyone liked the performance. It has a special meaning for me because it was my first performance, then in the US and in front of an audience. Thus, I got a new perspective.

The Fellows spent about 2 weeks together. No one thought that we would also go to the host families. The reception took place on Friday, where host families and fellows got to know each other in person for the first time. Also, some had to leave campus that evening. A very emotional and heartbreaking moment. A difficult moment not only for some but for all. I was picked up by our host mom on Saturday with my Kosovan and Hungarian colleagues. This Saturday was the most active day in this program. First, we went to the Indiana History Center. There we visited an exhibition about the Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor. Indianapolis is known worldwide for its car racing and hence it is also known as The Racing capital of the world. We experienced a tour behind the scenes. It was the best experience so far. I firmly believe that no European has heard of Dunkpin Bowling. This is bowling from the 1950s. The hall was decorated in the style of that time. We ended up watching a baseball game. I didn’t expect that. That was a great experience. On Sunday we went to the zoo, which I found very interesting as mostly animals from Australia were exhibited. I asked my hostmom to show us around a typical American high school and she complied with my request. Like in the movies, so was high school. Large gyms, fitness center, canteen, many trophies and awards, theater and 2,500 students! I am very thankful to my host family as they give us the true American feel. Next week is going to be more exciting.

Mohid Weekly – Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship (1)

Bericht von START-Wien Stipendiat Mohid von seinem USA-Aufenthalt im Rahmen des Benjamin Franklin Fellowship Programs 2022.

Vielen Dank an die US Embassy Vienna für die bereits langjährige Ermöglichung und Unterstützung der Teilnahme von START-Stipendiat:innen bei diesem einzigartigen Programm!

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16 hours. That’s how long it took me to reach the American mainland. The nervousness was immense; Uncertainty, indecisiveness, it was all there. Until I met other Fellows in Frankfurt. 45 representatives of European countries and ten Americans. One of them was an Austrian. And that was me. The pride of representing Austria in the USA is so great. I couldn´t believe it.

The day after our arrival started with breakfast. We were shown around the campus. The Purdue University campus is as big as a small town! There’s nothing the campus doesn’t have. Various restaurants, recreation centre (swimming pool, rock climbing, gym, etc.), bowling alley, shopping centre, etc. This small town even has its own police force.

First, we learned over Benjamin Franklin. Who is Franklin? What were his goals? What contribution did he make? All these questions have been answered. This week’s module was Democratic Citizenship. There was a discussion about the existence of a government. We studied the US Constitution, specifically the 4th Amendment. The Fellows investigated controversial cases where the Fourth Amendment was (not) violated. The Fellows then played a court trial. We also visited the Tippecanoe Battlefield. The Battle of Tippecanoe is considered important to US history. Visiting the Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre was a big surprise not only for me, but for all Fellows. The play was about Mary Poppins. I’m sure that was the coolest experience. On Friday we were in Indianapolis, the capital of Indiana. A very beautiful city with many cafes and cool fast-food restaurants.

Now I want to talk a bit about the Fellows and Mentors. When we had the Introduction Dinner, about 90% of the Fellows said they were interested in International Relations and Politics. This one thing is very common among us. That makes us one, but these people are still so different. Everyone is very inspiring. They work for the good of the community. Everyone feels very comfortable among their colleagues. We sit and talk until midnight. It’s very cool. It’s even cooler with the mentors. I wish my teachers (not all) would be as energetic as the BFTF mentors. They don´t interact with us like teachers do, but as like friends.

I am currently experiencing the American Dream. Everything is unbelievable, but nevertheless it is there. I am in the United States of America. The next few days are already making me curious.

Infoabend freiwillig soziales Jahr und europaischer Freiwilligendienst

In den Weihnachtferien nahmen sich 5 Absolvent:innen Zeit um interessierten Stipendiat:innen aus ganz Österreich über ihre Erfahrungen im In- und Ausland zu berichten. Josipa verbrachte ihr Auslandsjahr in Spanien, Kaan in Frankreich (im Zuge seines Zivilidienstes), Mariana absolviert ihren Freiwilligendienst aktuell in Spanien, Liza-Angelee und Trinh erzählen über ihre freiwilliges Jahr in der Jugendarbeit im Inland in Salzburg.

Vielen Dank für die spannenden Erfahrungsberichte und Tipps!

Ich bin sehr glücklich, dass ich an dem Workshop teilgenommen habe, da ich jedes mal wenn mich jemand gefragt hat „Was willst du nach der Matura machen?“ noch selbst keine Antwort treffen konnte. Ich habe schon seit längerem in Erwägung gezogen ein FSJ zu machen, da ich über meine zukünftigen Pläne noch unsicher bin, aber trotzdem bis ich es herausfinde was ich machen möchte, etwas sinnvolles machen will, mit Bedeutung. Leider kannte ich mich aber bis vor dem Workshop, trotz Recherche im Internet nicht 100% über das FSJ aus.

Mir hat sehr gefallen, dass der Workshop von ehemaligen Stipis geführt worden ist, da sie uns von ihren eigenen Erfahrungen als Freiwillige*r berichten konnten.
Die Alumnis haben einen tollen Job gemacht uns einen Überblick über das Angebot zu geben und wer alles beteiligt ist an so einem Abenteuer.

Letztlich, fühl ich mich auf jeden fall viel aufgeklärter über das FSJ und werde mich selbst weiterhin informieren und eventuell für den kommenden Herbst bewerben.

(Genti START-NOE)