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ALUMNI STORIES

Our programs are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that give emerging young leaders the opportunity to be exposed to new people, places, cultures, and ideas. They develop leaders, teach critical skills, and leave a lasting impact.
Here's what our alumni have to say of the OHI experience.

Lisa Curtis - Oakland, CA

Fellow & Founder of Kuli Kuli, Women's Entrepreneurhsip, Jordan

"Often when people hear the word entrepreneur they think of a software engineer in a hoodie sitting somewhere in Silicon Valley. Attending the OHI Young Women's Entrepreneur Fellowship in Jordan was a life changing experience that flipped all the stereotypes of what an entrepreneur should look and act like. Growing up in Silicon Valley, I've participated in a lot of entrepreneurial training programs. I can honestly say that this program was the most enlightening and well-organized training I've ever done. And the other young women entrepreneurs I met, both American and Jordanian, blew anything Silicon Valley has to offer out of the water."

Rola Fayyed - Amman, Jordan

Fellow & Founder of Friendture, Women's Entrepreneurhsip, Jordan

"When I signed up for the Fellowship, I was registered with my first startup, which I left by the time I started the program. At the time, I also launched my second startup, and needed guidance and mentorship. OHI was kind enough to let me pursue my dreams and stay in the program with Friendture. They helped me with extraordinary resources, mentorship and most of all, they believed in me. Since then, I've gained confidence, knowledge and passion, and Friendture is in the process of starting operations soon. Without OHI, I don't know what would have happened to my dreams!"

Judy and John Hengesbaugh - San Diego, CA

Parent and Participant, Youth Ability Summit, Syria

"The trip to Syria with Open Hands Initiative was a life changing event introducing us to the Middle East and to the experience of people with disabilities outside of the United States, firsthand. All the young adults, mothers, and fathers truly have the same concerns about work, education, falling in love, socializing, and being respected and accepted. My son, John, and I tell people here in America about our trip quite often. Most people are stunned to hear that we were in Syria. "Why?", they wonder. My son, John, and I are honored to have the chance to tell the story of the Open Hands project. We explain how beautifully youth from America and Syria collaborated with enthusiasm, joy, and optimism. We send our wishes for peace and safety to all the people of Syria and especially to our friends from the Open Hands Initiative event, August 2010. With gratitude to everyone who is part of the Open Hands Initiative."

Sarah Funes - San Francisco, CA

Participant, pictured with Allie Cannington, Youth Ability Summit, Syria

"My experience with the Open Hands Initiative in Syria was an amazing opportunity for self reflection and connection. It allowed me to open my eyes and see the world and advocacy in a whole new light. My experiences and the people I have met have forever changed my life."

Sara Farag Elkamel - Cairo, Egypt

Reporting Fellow, Egypt Program

"On the Open Hands/Global Post Fellowship, I learned more in the span of 10 days than I ever thought possible. Working on a team with incredibly talented, well-rounded journalists from the United States and Egypt to cover this incredible story, this Revolution, was an outright surreal experience. I feel extremely proud to have been part of this project."

Matt Negrin - Washington, DC

Reporting Fellow, Egypt Program

"When I think back to those 10 days in Egypt, I recall vividly the warm friends I made, the new views on journalism I adopted, and the satisfying taste of fresh hummus. The experience that made the whole fellowship worth every ounce of effort to me was when Omnia, Lauren, and I took a train to Upper Egypt and spent the day interviewing Coptic Christians in poor desert towns that are overlooked by most journalists. Having the chance to do real storytelling in a place that is changing so quickly was an opportunity that changed the way I think about reporting, especially after learning from the Egyptian journalists how much their government tries to suppress their work. If I ever become a full-fledged foreign correspondent, I will owe my success to the guidance and vision of the GlobalPost/Open Hands Initiative fellowship."

Tatiana Alexandra Montoya González - Medellin, Colombia

U. of Antioquia Student Ambassador, Post-Conflict Colombia & Public Health

"Being part of the 'Post Conflict Colombia and Public Health' project was definitely one of the most meaningful and incredible experiences I've ever had. Sharing thoughts, doubts, and opinions to build knowledge with teachers, students, and community leaders from Boston and Colombia was the perfect occasion to rethink my role as spokeswoman in public health. The course gave me the opportunity to connect with bright and beautiful people from other cultures and strengthen my motivation by understanding that despite the distance and the differences between us, our dreams are the same. After this [program], my mind is full of ideas and I can't wait to see how we can improve conditions for vulnerable communities after all that we learned."

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