I sat on the small round table near the kitchen as I looked at my phone, connected to the house Wi-Fi, trying to see which train I could use to locate my office. I still could not figure it out. I was running out of time!

I decided to use an Uber!

Finally, I got to the office building, and called my supervisor, Douglas Kerr, whom I was to meet in the lobby.

I had already been serving with IFDC, as an Atlas Corps Business Development Fellow, for close to 4 months remotely in Malawi. And there I was finally, on the 27th of July 2021, meeting my colleagues face to face in Washington DC.

Everyone was excited to meet me. I sat at my office table ready to take on the world, but humble to learn as much as I could from the new people around me.

As I look back today, 27 July 2022, exactly a year later since my first day in office and first month in DC, and the months that have followed to date, I can’t help but highlight my USA experiences.

  1. Understanding the DC transport system – After hearing how confused I was about the train system, a work colleague drew up a word document that gave me details on which train to take, which direction it would head to, and which stop I get off. It made it easier for me to refer to as I had to use 2 trains to and from the office. The train switch had me the most confused. I recall standing at Gallery Place China town metro station wondering how to get on the side where shady grove was headed to. I also remember taking a yellow train thinking it will take me to Waterfront, but it took me to Pentagon, yikes!
  1. Understanding the work culture – Once I got to the office, I studied my colleague’s communication styles, and the work systems, and went through all the necessary documents I needed to know more about the organization and USA culture. This helped me better blend in.
  1. Food – I already knew from my first USA experience in 2018, about the difference in food, but nothing can over prepare you! I would constantly be on Amazon looking for some African food, or head to the African stores, but also not ignoring exploring more of the food here in the US. However, one always wants to be closer to home, despite being further away.
  1. Fun and Exciting things in DC – I moved into a new house with 2 other fellows from Tunisia and Kenya. I enjoyed learning more about their food and culture. We also had our weekly weekend plans all laid out on what we would do in DC…. from museum visits, going on different rides at Six Flags America, to visiting New York in one day, etc. I also enjoyed several happy hour moments, sharing drinks and meals with my colleagues. And a colleague who took me to the Renaissance festival, a theme park based on the culture of Europe in the 14th-17th centuries. Fun, fun, fun!

I have a few months left until the end of the fellowship, and excited to create more memories of fun and learning. And looking forward to the next phase of life.   

Thumbnail photo by Jan Tinneberg on Unsplash