It seemed like only yesterday when I stumped upon the email from the Atlas Team very late in the night as per the Indian Standard Time congratulating me with the fellowship offer. Ah! What a night! At the very first glance of the email body, I could not comprehend the news. It could be the anxiety that had crippled my brain cells that the email content refused to make any sense. After a minute of reading and re-reading the email, I froze and realised that I had finally made the cut after competing with thousands of applications received worldwide. I was ecstatic and fluttering around with excitement. But the irony of the situation was that as the email was received so late in the night hours, I could not just pick up the phone and happy dial my parents and friends to break the news!

Pacing up and down in my room, I started looking for my friends across the globe who would be available to speak and become part of my virtual celebrations! Poor me, after dialling over seven of my friends, I was lucky to finally have a dear pal of mine from the Netherlands who happened to be the first one to celebrate and honour my excitement. My nerves finally calmed when the news finally found some ears to fall upon. Today when I recall that night, I find it hysterical, but the emotions are justified as this feat has been hard-earned, especially after being a “Semi-Finalist” for over 1.5 years. 

However, I will not be shy from admitting that the saga of disappointments with the “Regret” email after every fellowship cycle from the Atlas Team was very disheartening. But this did not damper my motivation to keep updating my application with equal precision, pinning hopes that the application would indeed find a suitable host organisation. Yes, the experience was very daunting, but as it is said, great things take their own sweet time to happen and materialise. 

I presume my stars had reserved the year 2022 to enjoy the best of my days as an Atlas Corps Fellow. So far into the blended format of the fellowship where I am remotely based in India, I have met some of the coolest fellows from other countries who come with varied domains and have a plethora of expertise and knowledge! The knowledge exchange between us is rightly serving one of the fellowship’s goals, where we are learning from each other and co-evolving. My host organisation- American Red Cross, has already set the platform and laid the foundation to help me learn and unlearn new skillsets and develop leadership competencies. 

Three weeks into the fellowship, I am thoroughly enjoying the shift from a classic 9 to 5 job to remote services with the host organisation, where my working hours start in the late afternoon. My mind is all set to adapt to the change, but the body is taking some time to acclimatise to my working hours, which also includes having at least four hours of overlap service between the Eastern Daylight Time and the Indian Standard Time. 

At times there are still some jitters and butterflies in my stomach when I think that in another two months, I will be there in person in Washington DC, serving my host organisation and meeting all the beautiful people there in person. The excitement also has no bound as it will be my first visit to the United States of America, but there is also the fear of staying over 8500 miles away from family in the corner of my heart. But I am very sure that this venture will help me make a new family away from my country. 

To all those “Semi-Finalists” who are anxiously waiting to be mapped to a host organisation, please continue to update the application with new developments and skill sets, making the profile richer and more desirable to find a match. Keep Smiling and Shining!

  “Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”- Ancient Chinese philosopher and writer Lao Tzu.

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