USTL provides full scholarships to outstanding students from Timor-Leste for two to four years of study at high-quality undergraduate degree institutions in the United States. Scholarship awards include full tuition toward either a bachelor’s degree or associate degree, travel, living stipends, medical insurance in the U.S., and visa costs. USTL is a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), U.S. Department of State.



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This fall 2021, I had an opportunity to become one of the facilitators for the First-Year Leadership Program (FyLP). I was once a FyLP graduate in my first semester and let me tell you, I was a nerve-wracked when speaking in front of a lot of people and the fact that I have to deliver my speech or express my opinion in English made it sounds even worse because my English back then was very basic. I embarrassed myself a lot but “hey, you would never learn if you never made mistakes, right?” so might as well just do it. I couldn’t remember exactly what happened or what I said at the time, but I certainly did learn and grow a lot since then.
The First-year Leadership Program - FyLP (pronounced 'flip') is a series of active sessions offered each Fall semester for students to explore their leadership strengths while connecting with other Redhawks through fun activities led by student facilitators. Every year, the campus life will open an application for students who are interested to be either a facilitator or a participant of the program, but because I was already a FyLP graduate, I can only apply to become a facilitator. Now, here's what I called “Seize an Opportunity”, I didn’t apply to be a facilitator that time and to be honest with you, I wasn’t ready to become one either. Perhaps, I was too nervous to lead a group of people, or the thoughts of having to do public speaking are still scary to me but things went unexpectedly, my adviser of this program reached out to me saying they need someone to replace one facilitator who has resigned and that I am an excellent candidate to take the role. My good friend named Asia who is also a lead facilitator pushed and told me to just do it and that I have the potential to lead people. Then, I remembered things that I always said to myself that getting a scholarship to come to America is not just to get a degree but also to gain an experience that can help me make the best decision and I don’t think I can get that in anywhere else so I would take any opportunity as many as possible that can help achieve my goal.
Every week, as a facilitator we planned, organized, and facilitated fun engaging activities before the session started including, games, small group discussion, guest speaker, etc., and each facilitator will be in charge of leading a small group and certain activities in every session. Throughout the program, I also got an opportunity to build a connection with other student leaders and staff members. This program has helped me improve my leadership skills and shaped my view in a way that I never had before. It was so refreshing to learn and heard other people’s experiences from different backgrounds. It made me more open-minded. Not to mentioned, I gained more leadership opportunities, for example, not long after this program, I got selected to be a social media coordinator for Student Activities Councils. As an international student in my school, you don’t quite see a lot of representation of us in a student-led organization or program so, to be one of the so many international students to have a chance to be a student leader is a big deal to me. I will definitely try to get more involved and hopefully get more leadership roles
in the future.
I since then learned that college life is the best time for you to learn by making mistakes. I sometimes admire my courage and bravery to try something new, to learn without being scared of making mistakes. Sometimes, I feel like I am being left behind by my peers and it makes me feel almost impossible to start doing something new, but this experience has proved to me that I can do anything as long as I put my mind to it. So, the moral of this story is that one day when you have a chance to study in America, don’t be afraid to try something new, get yourself out there, get involved, be daring, and embrace yourself because you will look back on the progress you have made and you will be amazed by it.