More than a Fellowship!!

Starting a Fellowship gives you lots of things to be excited about. You’ll be living overseas for the first time, in a new place, meeting lots of new people and enjoying some exciting new experiences. But all of these things can feel quite daunting, especially if Washington DC is a very different place to what you’re used to, and when you add in potential worries about the host organization side of things, can make you as nervous as it does excite. So, this post will hopefully give you a bit more of an insight into what to expect when you get here, so that you can put some of your worries aside and really make the most of what the prestigious Atlas Corps Fellowship has to offer.

When I first arrived in the US and and landed in Dallas International Airport, I was met by one of our very friendly Fellows, the airport greeter Mr. Victor who took me and my other two colleagues whom we arrived at the same time to our accommodation. We had plenty of time to get settled in and unpack before we had to do any formal socializing, but this is also a good time to get to know the people you’ll be living with for the next year. Before we know, our airport greeter was gone, and orientation week together global leadership lab followed, and was amazing to meet the whole Atlas Corps family together. For the first two weeks Atlas Corps staff were there to answer any immediate questions, so we don’t worry if you have a problem or a query you need sorting!

Then came the time to break from our now familiar environment to start service in our host organizations, and the process of establishing new relationships for the next one year started all over again.

According to your level of vulnerability, homesickness starts to creep in as you start missing family, friends, food etc. It always helps to make your room feel homely as soon as possible – so bring photos, knick-knacks, and anything else that reminds you of home so that your room soon starts to feel like yours. This is your chance to make your space your own and put your stamp on it – and so Shea Adair (Atlas Corps staff) kept reminding us “come prepared!”

It’s only three months and I feel this is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Though I was looking forward to participating in Atlas Corps Fellowship, now serving at Open Government Partnership, I had no idea when I signed up how invaluable it would be for me. I have not only gained communication strategies and thoughtful leadership; but my overseas experience in Washington DC has given me deep self-awareness, sensitivity to cultural diversity, global strategic thinking, practical approaches for building and maintaining sustainable networks and partnerships, listening skills and asking thoughtful questions. Ultimately a generous exposure to best practices in open governance from across the globe.

I sincerely appreciate Atlas Corps led by the CEO Scott Beale and Open Government Partnership especially my supervisor Mr. Alonso for the opportunity and the incredible work they are doing in developing world class social change leaders, many thanks.