We are happy to announce Noura Hassan, a Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) Young Professional participant, as the May 2022 CBYX German Participant of the Month. After attending a semester of college at the University of West Alabama (UWA) in Livingston (Alabama), Noura is now interning at the University with both the theatrical costume department and the international marketing and media team.
With encouragement from her UWA advisors, including Mark Davis and Connie Marine, early on in her exchange year, Noura decided to reach out to a local middle school to offer a semester of introductory German lessons. Teaching a class of ten students for an hour each week, Noura imparted language and cultural information about Germany. Several of her students have been inspired to travel to learn more German and to travel to Germany when they are older (perhaps some of them will be future CBYX participants!) Never having taught before, Noura also learned a lot from her students.
Noura has also learned a lot from acting and working on costumes for the musical theater department both for their fall and spring productions. She notes that the theater at UWA is much larger than the one she knew in Germany and, while things are similar, they are also very different!
Despite describing herself as not being particularly interested in sports, but fascinated by the idea of sports at colleges (which is not common in Germany), Noura decided to volunteer with the UWA athletic department. In her volunteer work, she was assigned to run the scoreboard and live camera during soccer and football games. Noura has really enjoyed learning how to use the camera to highlight the action on the fields and in the stands during the games. She applied these new videography skills in her marketing and media internship with the UWA International recruitment team. She is creating a video to market the UWA campus to international students and feels that the skills she gained in her volunteering have helped her to be more creative with how she accomplishes this task. Noura has also enjoyed her marketing work that she hopes to pursue a career in international marketing and media upon her return to Germany.
Living in UWA dorms, Noura has had the opportunity to really connect with her fellow students over movies and games in their common room. Her fellow students have helped her explore the beauty of Alabama from the white sands of Gulf Shores to the bamboo forest outside of Montgomery. In her host community of Livingston, many residents have not had the opportunity to travel to Germany. Instead, Noura has been helping people in her host community explore Germany without leaving home. From answering questions about Germany from people at the grocery store, to explaining to her dorm mates that tuna is an established pizza topping in Germany, Noura has made an impression on many she has met. While tuna pizza might not be for everyone, she has certainly sparked an interest in Germany and travel in many that she has met. In fact, on of her friends credits her with their decision to spend a semester next year in Europe.
She encourages others to consider doing an exchange program because “it will definitely help you to see the world from a different perspective and you will discover interests you haven’t had before. No matter how your exchange year turns out, it’ll be a valuable experience. Once you decide to do it, you will realize that and you definitely won’t regret it.”
Noura says that her CBYX exchange year “has made her a more confident and independent person.” She also notes that “I’ve never thought that my experiences, which seem so normal to me, can be very exciting to someone else. I could contribute so much with the experiences I’ve gained and stories I tell.”