Before coming into the program, I was bored. I was either going online to chat, just watching T.V. or playing basketball until I was exhausted. I didn’t hang out that much with my friends because I didn’t even think about it. I was lazy and didn’t care about what day or what time it was. All I did was taking confidence away from me. My social skills were horrible and my self-esteem was really low. I was nervous about getting to know new people, pessimistic about trying new things, and I was just angry at myself at all time. I also had a huge fear about speaking publicly. When I came into the program, everything was so different from my expectations.

The people I met there were so much different than I thought. Everybody was nice to me and I felt really comfortable. I felt like I could be myself and be accepted as that. Now I feel like I know more about the difference between my religion and the religions of the other members of the group. Honestly I didn’t know anything about the Jewish culture, but I knew a little bit about Muslim culture. We all have different ways of thinking, living, worshiping, but I think there is only one God. Humans are all the same. The stereotypes that I heard about my co-members were mostly wrong.

Some people say Muslims are terrorists. My friends aren’t terrorists; they are really nice people who go to school, have parents, friends, and are happy. All I heard about Jewish people is that most of them were rich. I didn’t know if it was true or not. I learned from my Jewish friend in the group how they eat and also why they wear the hat and beard. After spending days with my group I learned more and more about how different we are but yet how similar.

I felt enlightened about those other cultures.
I think I brought another point of view and personality into the group. I shared personal knowledge about where I came from, which the group didn’t know. There are still so many controversies and problems right now in my country of origin. Freedom of speech is still limited, 5 year old kids are still begging for money in the streets, police still do what they’re not supposed to do, women are still inferior to men, and the HIV virus continues to spread. The government used to abuse the use of the people’s money until the new, recent government formed. Now we are in a period of transition and the new president is trying to build good international relations to make Madagascar a better country economically and socially. Lots of solutions can be applied to the struggles. The small Malagasy communities from all over the world can raise funds to help feed the poor in Madagascar. By attending the MDG program I learned how I can find people to help me solve the struggles in my country and I can help other people too.

Overall, I think that this summer program really had an unexpected effect on my life. I learned that even though we have differences, we can still live with each other and at the same time love each other. Tolerance and understanding are very important to make a relationship a better one. People are not always what we think they are. I’m willing to work with different people and I look forward to it. I’m curious to know more about other people’s culture and learn new things. This program raised my self-esteem and self confidence because of the social skills I developed. Those special two weeks will always be necessary in my life, to apply in any social situation I get into.



ALL human beings are born FREE and EQUAL in dignity and rights. 

-Universal Declaration of Human Rights