Ermida Koduah

American University, Dubai

I was born in Brescia, Italy to Ghanaian parents and moved to the United States at the age of 4 which instilled in me a passion for travel at a young age. Growing up in New York City further sparked my interest in wanting to learn more about other cultures and visit foreign counties. However, my family did not have sufficient economic resources for me to travel and explore. In addition, they were worried I was not old enough to travel on my own. Therefore, at the age of 13, I made it a goal to study abroad once I went to college. Luckily, deciding to go to an institute like SUNY Albany was a great choice because SUNY Albany has over 100 different study abroad programs.

After my freshman year, I was ready to travel and explore the world. The summer before I entered my sophomore year, I eagerly completed my application to spend my spring semester at the American University in Dubai. I constantly worried about how I would fund my trip and both my EOP advisor and study abroad advisor encouraged me to apply for various scholarships. To my surprise, I received 4 out the 6 scholarships I applied for including the Gilman Scholarship, American University in Dubai Clinton Scholarship and two other SUNY Albany study abroad scholarships.

Studying in Dubai for a semester was an amazing experience. I had a chance to be active on the host university campus by joining the African Club. In addition, I took very interesting courses all relating to the Middle East including Arabic language, women and gender in the MENA region, Islamic civilization, and history of the Middle East, learning about these things from the rare perspective of being inside the Middle East. I was also able to take advantage of how easy travel was and visited both Thailand and India. Today, I am an American University in Dubai Ambassador at SUNY Albany.

Studying abroad made me a stand out candidate among my peers which led me to be able to intern at the United Nations when I returned from Dubai. For a month, I was fortunate enough to attend high level meetings on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG), as well as network and interact diplomats from various countries. Following my internship, I attended a 6-week program at Howard University; the Rangel Summer Enrichment Program. The amazing program introduced me to the functions and careers at the State Department, graduate schools with international relations programs, fellowships and other opportunities within international relations. Most importantly, I heard about the Critical Language Scholarship. The CLS program is a state funded program that funds US students learning a critical language to study abroad for 8 weeks in the summer. This summer, I was selected to go to Tangier, Morocco to learn Arabic and Moroccan customs and culture.

Click here to view Ermida's Vlog from Dubai and Morocco!