As I enter into my two-month anniversary in this fellowship I wanted to note a few thoughts that have been marinating in my head throughout my stay here. I have spent the last two months (and counting) working on adjusting to a new life filled with a 9 to 5 office job and rewarding after-work experiences that have made me understand the “work hard, play harder” American work-ethic mentality more clearly. I have made a rather difficult transition from working in a hustling and bustling non-profit with refugees where I would interview and write cases for about 2-3 refugees per day. While my work here is as important, I found it hard to stay put and composed in a desk while remaining transfixed on a computer researching Sudanese matters every work day from 9 to 5. I spent my first few weeks wondering how one can only interact with a computer screen for 90 percent of 8 hours a day without experiencing fatigue, boredom, anxiety and without exercise or movement. It seems that a lot of people that work for non-profit in DC have office jobs as it is not an “on the field” location.While working may involve advocacy in the future, it still becomes an occasional thing to engage in in-person conversations. Therefore, frequent interaction with the computer while staying put and composed in front of the computer is part of the deal.
While this hasn’t been my first desk job, I have worked in unconventional settings where I would frequently walk around, work on a balcony, work on the floor, etc. The importance of human interaction suddenly became important to me despite my innate introvert nature (which may have actually changed over the years given my nostalgia for working with refugees). This period has become a moment of contemplation and reflection to me about the corporate world as well as non-profit work in locations such as DC. I have off the bat concluded that it would not be for me and found it hard to make that transition . Yet that was a hasty conjecture. I have realized that I am learning a lot more than what I had anticipated my first few weeks. I am starting to learn rather interesting things about what has become to be a new disciplinary phenomena for me. First of all being a researcher at the moment, I feel that I’m starting to equip myself with the necessary tools for if I pursue a PhD in the future- all that patience and time spent researching on the computer takes a lot of discipline! I have also learned that not all fruits of your work can be seen and reaped immediately. There are many influential careers that do work behind the scenes making it easier for those working on the field to reap their fruits.
While I have a hippie mentality and believe that productivity is at its best when people are free to work whichever way and wherever is comfortable to them, order and systems also construct frameworks that make us better produce in the future. A blend of both worlds would be perfect.
And then there were happy hours…
I also never really understood all those “happy” hours after work, which were usually set up on someone’s last day or week. How would that make them “happy” hours? That’s beside the point but I’ve also realized the significance of happy hours in the work environment here-the importance of unwinding after work.
And then there was consumerism..
I just so happened to spend all my weekends so far browsing through stores and embracing the countless possibilities of things I can buy in this country. It seems as though consumerism coupled with happy hours is the reward people get after those long hours in tedious jobs. Hence, the cycle of life falls into place. People work to consume and the advent of technology makes things better and better and more tempting to buy.
At the end of it all, how can one be of benefit to society through social enterprises if they couldn’t unwind after work. How can office jobs be more enjoyable? We all do what we love but is consumerism and happy hours set up to give us that extra nudge every day? I have yet to find out.

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