‘If you lived here your entire life, you probably won’t notice how beautiful it really is’

This semester, Ivy Tech Northeast is hosting two students from Tunisia. Oumeima Hammami and Meriem Ghalleb are studying at Ivy Tech Northeast as part of a scholarship program from the U.S. Department of State. They’ve been on campus since the beginning of the semester, putting them about a quarter of the way through their year-long stay.

Oumeima wrote up a short essay about her stay thus far in Fort Wayne. Be sure to check back next week for a Q&A with Meriem.

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Oumeimi Hammami

Oumeima Hammami

My name is Oumeima Hammami. I’m 20 years old, and I came from Tunisia.

One year ago, I was a second-year student at the Higher School of Telecommunication of Tunis, an engineering school, and I heard about a scholarship to the United States. There were thousands all around Tunisia filling an online application, including our grades, our working and volunteering experiences, all sorts of questions about leadership, our future plans, how we plan to contribute in the Tunisian economy, and much more.

Only 250 students made it through this first step, but the path was still long to go. Then we had to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test and to sit through an interview with delegates from the Department of State. Mine lasted for about an hour of intensive questions about everything: leadership, leisure, and my perception of life, economy, and even politics.

Tunisia is a north African country on the Mediterranean Sea. Learn about the country in the CIA's World Factbook.

Tunisia is a north African country on the Mediterranean Sea. Learn about the country in the CIA’s World Factbook.

Two months later, I received a congratulation email saying that I made it to the finals and that I got the scholarship! It was an unforgettable moment, so heartwarming, a dream coming true.

The program picked the college for us according to our current field of study, so Indiana wasn’t my choice, but if I got the chance to choose again, it would be my first choice.

The best thing I like about it is how people are nice and friendly, always smiling and open to others. I didn’t have issues to fit in. I’ve been here for two months, and I already have friends that makes me feel like I have known them my entire life. Fort Wayne is probably not one of the most known places in the United States, but for sure it’s the place where you feel home.

And its nature is just outstanding! If you have lived here your entire life, you probably won’t notice how beautiful it really is. Since I grew up in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, I didn’t see much of nature, so every day I walk to school and see all of these pretty views. My soul is happy. And I can’t wait to see the snow. Although many people are complaining about it, I can’t help being excited to see everything so pure and white.

I’m studying for a Java Development Certificate, a CompTIA Networking Certificate and an Access Database Certificate. The academic system is very different in Tunisia. We study with the same people in all of our classes, so socialization is much easier. However here each one has his own schedule and stays in his own bubble.

Once I finish my studies May 2016, I will return to my beloved country and share the knowledge, the experiences, and expertise I have gained in the United States. I will have to finish my senior year at my previous university and begin the journey of looking for a job.