Union Station map, Washington DC

Atlas Corps, a name of aspiration in nonprofit sector of Pakistan, became a dream of mine as well to jump and flourish in the international development when I completed almost seven years of experience with different national and international nonprofit organizations in Pakistan. It was not easy to satisfy the reviewer of applications and I realized it when my first application, drafted in just three hours, was rejected even at the first stage but accepted second one which took more than two months just to develop six pages’ application with reviews by seven nonprofit experts in Pakistan, and almost six months’ long process of finalization as an Atlas Corps Fellow. Amazing! Now, I am a member of Atlas Corps family and I’m visualizing it to be a career booster in future.

In addition to be interviewed by the Host Organization on the day of Eid-ul-Fitar, a major religious celebration day immediate after the month of fastening, it would be memorable for me that my first day of fellowship in the U.S. was also on the day of Eid-ul-Azha, the second major religious celebration as feast of the sacrifice. I couldn’t miss the both but my host organization has official holiday on these occasions. Initially, I was confused on different things like why traffic is on right side, pushing electricity button up is ON, how to decide from which side of road should take the bus to reach destination, why all the statues in U.S. are almost black in color and of male historians, why all metro buses and trains full of people are so silent, how everyone loves to guide you on locations and routes, why the difference of class seems in passengers of metro train and the bus, and most importantly, how will adjust at the host organization and what will be that’s space for learning and opportunities for me. BUT, this one month has given the answer to a number of these questions and I am feeling getting fit in everywhere. Just one more month, to cope and fluent with most of these like cultural shocks.

From orientation and Global Leadership Lab (GLL) by the Atlas Corps to the almost two weeks at host organization, Center for Islam and Religious Freedom (CIRF), I have been assessing things as I envisioned. Everything is innovative and diverse for me in this period of one month, i.e. from metro routes to the self-service even cooking at homes and offices, modern approaches towards individual networking to leadership, global concept of citizenship to the freedom even of religion. I am taking this one month as a foundational period for next eleven months (and more for some of my colleagues), of learning as well as adopting the global standards in nonprofit, approaches to network and lead, ability to visualize social issues globally, cultural adjustments, living with diverse communities and nationalities, and possible strategies to transform knowledge and skills to those who have not the opportunity and exposure.

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