So here I am in Washington DC, the first full month in my host organization would be a milestone tomorrow. It has been an interesting experience and according to Virginia Campo (Atlas Corps Class 13) I seem to have an angel on my shoulders. Arriving the city in the thick of winter from Lagos Nigeria, you can well understand my system-shock! It was freezing! It became more remarkable to note that Washington DC is a ‘walking city’, so my fellow Atlas Corps fellows would encourage me to walk to wherever we are going. I lost a bit of weight in the process. A win-win situation! The best part of my first month is meeting my Local Ambassador- Uki Dele-Ogbiede.
She is a Nigerian water engineer, who has lived in the US since her early teens. Uki has been beyond wonderful in her kindness and support. On Martin Luther Day, she took me to the Martin Luther King Jr. and Lincoln’s Memorial. She also took the time to explain the concept behind the National Mall and why the Martin Luther King memorial came to be located at its site. Uki has been a calming voice when I am feeling overwhelmed by the transition process of settling into life in D.C. She has also provided a ready clan of friends.
At the time we visited the Martin Luther memorial, students from Morehouse; Martin Luther’s alma mater where already at the venue chanting college songs. It was a beautiful sight to watch the pride in their eyes and hear it in their rich baritones.
The crowd watched and clapped! Suddenly, I realized the significance on Martin Luther’s sacrifice anew. I am here today because of what he did.
The third angel I met is my roommate. After responding to ads on Craigslist using the email template shared by Nicole Pytlik of Atlas Corps, I got deluged with lots of replies. Subsequently, I decided on an apartment which is a walking distance to my office. On the first day I moved in…I found this on my dresser:
My flat-mate – Gigi, is a Montessori teacher from the Philippines. She is absolutely amazing.
My last-angel is my host organization. The Urban Institute, where I serve at the Centre for International Development and Governance (IDG), has an amazing atmosphere of professionalism and warmth.
It is incredible how the institution merges its ability to produce world acclaimed research within a very relaxed environment. A bigger testimony to the work-culture at the Urban Institute is that whenever I mention the institution to people I meet; the response has always been..”really? It is a great place..you will love it there’. And boy! Am I loving it..