Written by: Karrar Abdulkaree, 2013 IYLEP participant
The interview day was just like the first page of a new book in which I will complete one of my greatest goals in life, crossing cultures. Before the day of the visa interview, I was preparing the papers that I need for my interview and I started to think about the ways to ensure I take advantage of each minute–whether it be on the interview day or during the IYLEP trip.
Since I believe that any new step in life is a useful experience, I’m looking forward to having a lot of interesting time with the new people that I will soon know very well, my fellow IYLEPers. On my way to Baghdad, I was so happy to find my friend from school was there too and some other friends from Karbala.
We talked all the way there, and I felt so happy to learn how cultural they were. When we arrived in Baghdad at the Flowers Land Hotel, everyone was a little bit tired, so we went to our rooms. What I found nice was that even in our tiredness, we were able to continue talking for a long time with a special, friendly people.
After a while, we met Ms. Mayada and I met the other IYLEPers from the other provinces. I really found special hope glitter in their eyes. I felt so comfortable at the time, but what I noticed was that the others were worrying about the interview and there was kind of confusing feeling in the air. I told them that there was no need to worry sand that we just have to be ourselves and be honest.
Then, I went to Aljadriya Street with some of my friends. We had a nice time, or what I call precious moments. Then we got back hotel and we were supposed to sleep, but we had a nice gathering, so we only ended up sleeping for only 3 hours.
In the morning, we were supposed to wake up at 5 a.m. but for me and my roommates we woke up at 4:30A.M. I wrote a few words to sing in English, which is a hobby of mine. When I went downstairs, I found all other IYLEPers. After checking our attendance, we went to the U.S. Embassy and after some check points and a few conversations which turned out to be an unforgettable memory, I found myself in the interview.
This was the nicest part: when I talked with the consular officer who was so so friendly. The questions were so simple and it was just a simple conversation for few minutes ending with the magical words, “Your visa is approved!” I just felt so happy.
When we got back to hotel, we took pictures and we said not goodbye, but rather, “See you soon” because we are all waiting to reunite with the same people from Iraq and more of our peers from the United States in a few months.
Finally, I’d like to share my belief with all future IYLEPers and with all other students that you have all to be comfortable in each step you take because you have a great treasure in your hands, which is knowledge and a creative mind. For the IYLEP experience, always be yourself– just that. Make a note of this. Every step is going to be so simple. Remember, my friend, that everyone can create a special experience, building great friendships and memories.