Fifty-one days. And counting. It’s hard to believe it’s already been that long since I landed in Washington DC to join the Atlas Corps Fellowship programme. When I think about it, it seems even more surreal to believe I’ll be in the US for (at least) one year when I think back to what I was doing this time last year.
After just having completed a five year stint working at a USAID-funded Economic Growth and Agriculture project in Lahore, Pakistan in July 2014, I had joined a four year Dfid-funded Voice and Accountability project for Better Health and Nutrition in Lahore in August 2014. This time last year it felt to me as if I was on the path to working on yet another long haul project in Pakistan. However; somewhere along the way I applied for the Atlas Corps Fellowship, and as things turned out, just a couple of months ago in August 2015 I was lucky enough to be selected for this fellowship. It seems to me that in the space of a couple of days or months, anything is possible and your life can literally make a 360 degree turn overnight.
And so has been the case with the fellowship, especially if the last fifty-one days are any indication of what is to come over the course of the rest of the year. So far, I have had the privilege of meeting amazing fellows and individuals from all over the world and have really felt like I’ve been welcomed here as a family member in such a short span of time, be it by the Atlas Corps community and local ambassadors, my host organization The Nexus Fund, or by old friends and new in DC.
Just over the last fifty-one days, I have experienced a wide variety of ‘neo-fellow’ moments such as communal living with other fellows during our orientation and Global Leadership Lab (GLL) weeks, attending multiple welcome parties and traditions dinners, touring the National Mall, the White House and its gardens, watching a ballet performance at the Kennedy Centre, going to the mosque for Eid-al-Adha prayers during the GLL, enjoying karaoke night, watching the annual pre-Halloween high heel race, and much, much more.
I’d like to take this moment to sit back and reflect on the experience and memories I’ve had just over the last month and a half, and look forward to the rest of the ride – which I know is going to be just as great, if not better!