CCI Student Jamila Salifu Shares the Many Benefits of Volunteering, Globally and Locally

December 5, 2023

Today, we celebrate International Volunteer Day. This day is intended not only to spread awareness about the importance of volunteering but also to recognize those who are giving of their time to help others.

For Jamila Salifu, an international student from Ghana, volunteering helps her engage with others despite being shy.


Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I am 21 years of age, and I have 19 siblings with four stepmothers living in the same house as my dad. I am a participant in the Community College Initiative (CCI) Program, and I am from Ghana. CCI is a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State where students from different countries come to the U.S. to study for two semesters. For me, volunteering is something I like doing, and it is one of the pillars of the CCI program, which requires us to do at least 75 hours of volunteering. (Jamila has already done 160 hours.) Still, I will continue to volunteer throughout my life for the following reasons and benefits:

  • Volunteering plays a crucial role in the world.
  • It contributes to the wellbeing of communities and individuals in various ways; volunteering is integral to the fabric of the world.
  • It plays a vital role in community development, skill development, addressing social issues, building a culture of giving and fostering a sense of civic responsibility and engagement.

I like to help. It makes me happy. Anytime I volunteer, I meet new people, see new places and learn new things. Since I am an indoor person, volunteering forces me to go out, approach people and start a conversation with people.  

What brought you to NOVA?
When I was growing up, I never considered traveling outside my country because life was too difficult. However, the head of department at my school, Tamale Technical University (TaTU), told me about the CCI program. I applied for the program, wrote exams, went for an interview, underwent a medical examination and was chosen to study information systems technology at NOVA, specifically at the Alexandria Campus.

Since 2007, the CCI Program has hosted more than 3,500 participants from 22 countries. This U.S. Department of State program is administered by Northern Virginia Community College in cooperation with the NOVA-led Community College Consortium. For further information, please contact Leeza Fernand, director for CCI at Contact the NOVA CCI Team at and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at

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