Celebrating 5 Years of the CIEE Civic Leadership Summit: Andra Dolana
Interview with Andra Dolana from Romania (CIEE Work & Travel USA 2017)
What made you interested in doing an exchange experience in the US?
It was my second time coming to the U.S. and I decided to participate in this experience for the same reasons I did the first time – the desire to be a part of a different culture, to see how the people of one of the greatest countries in the world are, to get to know people my age from different cultures and, of course, to travel. The American culture is everywhere and I wanted to experience a Fourth of July holiday, eat burgers and Philly cheesesteaks, talk with Americans, and visit one of the most amazing cities in the world – New York.
What is the most important thing you learned at the Civic Leadership Summit?
I think the most important thing I learned was that no matter the cultural barriers, or how different our personalities are, there are some things that bring us all together, like our desire to help the environment, our desire to combat corruption, and our overall desire to change the world that we live in. It was an amazing feeling to know that I, a girl from Romania, can have so many things in common with a girl from Nicaragua. We bonded over what seemed a simple question – “If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be?” It was an awesome feeling to know that if you are willing to open your mind and let go of prejudices, you can make friends with people from all over the world.
How has the Civic Leadership Summit impacted your life?
It made me more sure than ever that I want to make a difference and that I can make a difference. I used to feel that a single person cannot fight against an entire system, but at the Civic Leadership Summit I learned that I should start by helping the people in my community; that thinking small is not bad thing – it’s productive and can help make the world a better place. I learned a lot of interesting information and gained some helpful skills for becoming a changemaker. On top of that, I also met a lot of intelligent, fun, and caring people.
Where are you now?
I am in my country and I am currently on the path of getting my master’s degree in gender studies.
What makes you a changemaker?
Well, I am a journalist, and at the Civic Leadership Summit, I learned that storytelling is an important part of making a change so that is what I plan on doing. Using my knowledge from the Summit and my gender studies program, I plan to find stories regarding discrimination, violence against women, and racism and give those people a voice. My dream is to open a website for young women where they can learn about politics and how it affects their life and to learn about their rights, health, and education.