Navy Yard Southwest Washington DC according to Wikipedia is “currently serves as a ceremonial and administrative center for the U.S. Navy, home to the Chief of Naval Operations, and is headquarters for the Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Historical Center, the Department of Naval History, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Naval Reactors, Marine Corps Institute, the United States Navy Band, and numerous other naval commands”.
But to me, Navy Yard connotes a whole different meaning:
For five years I pursued an internship with the Naval Historical Center department of Navy Yard from Nigeria, and couldn’t get it. Not because the center was unwilling to offer me a placement or I wasn’t qualified enough, rather it was because of certain adversaries that resolutely contended with my stretch over an already flattened wall.
This professional opportunity at this time was the biggest thing that could happened to my career, as an undergraduate of history and international relations this was an excellent fit and the next logical step in taking my career global but adversaries would not let me cross beyond borders. My school wouldn’t, the embassy didn’t and my resources couldn’t. At the height of this contentions the vision to help people like me fenced out of basics (international internships) of academic/professional experience birthed the social enterprise I now lead – Landmark Development Initiative.
In an intriguing interview the visa consular said “you mentioned you are a social entrepreneur so why an internship at the Navy Yard?” without much thought I responded “everyone needs an entry into their global career….and this is mine”. She looked at me with an agreeing posture, and it seems for a second she was going to open the border but did not.
My inhibition to cross to Navy Yard at that time despite relentless leaps wouldn’t appeal to the social entrepreneur in me, rather I invited Navy Yard to Lagos Nigeria to speak to my university. Without a platform of my own, I began making rounds to every international organization that I know operate in Nigeria. While pitching for funding at the South African Embassy for the project, I was inspired to have a platform of my own since the school wasn’t keen to host Nary Yard.
As I stand today at the Navy Yard, every piece of it reminds me of how the pursuit for an internship in this every place would create the building blocks for my path in social entrepreneurship, and the priceless joy of creating this very same experience for the young and aspiring around the world. Today I come to the Navy Yard, Washington DC not as an Intern seemingly at the zenith of his professional goal, but as an Atlas Corps Fellow just getting ready for the global stage, breaking down transnational boundaries for those whose careers hinge on it.
This is what I see that stands Atlas Corps out from other programs; its multilateral, multinational, free flow of service. This is what I can see as my major contribution toward African Renaissance, and the very next big thing to the global development practice. As people cross borders through this fellowship in an ‘open-source’ fashion, the technology that holds back the remaining 2/3 portion of the world from being flattened is freely licensed to them. Like me, we realize that Navy Yard is not just exclusive to the United States; it is reproducible in every single part of the world even in Lagos Nigeria.
This is what Navy Yard means to me.