The Department of State’s English Access Microscholarship Program (Access), administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is celebrating its 10th anniversary! In honor of this very special occasion, we present this list of 10 ways that the Access Program has changed over 100,000 lives in more than 85 countries thus far. Twenty-three Access Program alumni currently participating in a two-week exchange to the United States shared their insights and inspired this list -- these are their words, providing us with a glimpse into their remarkable journeys.
1. “The Access Program means everything to me since it helped me learn the most important foreign language in the world…” Beni, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
At its core, Access is an English language scholarship program, providing its participants with at least 360 hours of language instruction over the course of two years.
2. “It helped me learn more about U.S. culture and values…having confidence in my abilities, developing my leadership skills, and having love and respect for others regardless of their color, religion, and background.” Jarallah, Yemen
Access students participate in activities that introduce them to U.S. society and culture, broadening their understanding of the U.S. and building positive worldviews.
3. “It made me more conscious about how my existence can change the world.” Christyl, Philippines
Access grooms the next generation of world leaders through activities that empower students to develop their public speaking, strategic planning, and other leadership skills.
4. “The thing which impressed me a lot is community service. I started my own school where we teach the poor children of my community.” Sohail, Pakistan
Access students participate in community service projects where they learn how to identify challenges within their communities and develop solutions to address them.
5. “The Access Program has helped me to get my medical course, which was my childhood dream.” Seema, India
English is the language of the global economy, and through the Access Program, thousands of youth now have employment opportunities they may not have had otherwise.
6. “It opened the window of opportunity to see the world…” Nasiba, Tajikistan
Access provides its students with an introduction to technology, and for many students, Access is their first opportunity to sit at a computer and join the global conversation.
7. “In Access class, I learned about development skills, civic education, social sciences, and politics.” Thinzar, Myanmar
Access supports students in fledgling democracies and provides them with insights into the workings of representative government and ideas for how they can participate.
8. “The Access Program helped me to enter the university I wanted.” Christina, El Salvador
Many Access students dream of an opportunity for higher education. Access provides them with the support, guidance, and knowledge they need to be competitive applicants to programs for which they may not have otherwise been qualified.
9. “It taught me how to get along with people of different nationalities and to find foreign friends.” -- Alena, Russia
Access opens students’ eyes to diversity and cultivates acceptance and tolerance, critical components of peace-building in a tumultuous world.
10. “The Access Program changed my path from ‘I can’t’ and ‘I’m not good enough for that’ to ‘I can’ and ‘I will.’ Wonderful opportunities taught me that only the sky is the limit and nothing is impossible to achieve.” -- Muamer, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Personal development is a key intangible of the Access Program. Students gain the confidence, experience, and knowledge to inspire lofty goals and achieve great success.
As we kick of the eleventh year of the program, we leave you with one more way the Access program has changed lives:
“A mathematical theory known as ‘the butterfly effect’ states that the clapping of the wings of a butterfly in New York can cause a storm in Japan. For me, this statement shows the vital influence that a small change can have on a complicated system. And I have the Access Program to thank for helping me believe that I am a butterfly.” -- Lara, Lebanon
Thank you to everyone who has supported and participated in the Access Program –- we wish you all the best as you spread your wings and fly!
About the Author: Alice Murray serves as the Program Branch Chief for English Language Programs in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.