While staying at U street hostel in my first week in the United States for the Atlas Corps fellowship, I saw Meriem and Wissal, my friends and fellow from Class 36, designing their country presentations. I loved the aesthetic design of their presentation and I blurted out that “I am definitely adding learning and sharpening my design skills to my list of goals in the US”. I want to learn how to make beautiful power-point presentations that rock!

The following week, I resumed to my host organization, Transparency and Accountability Initiative (TAI) in DC, and I was thrust into a whole new terrain – an opposite of the line of work I am used to. While I am used to dealing with issues concerning migration, rural development, businesses, and startups back home; here I am all about transparency and accountability in the civic space towards an equitable and inclusive society – which resonates to my interest in international development.

I have been in my host organization for about two weeks now and it has been a remarkable experience. In my short stay, I have had challenging roles that have allowed me to push myself to sharpen my skills and learn more. I don’t think there is going to be a dull moment in my role as a communications fellow because I will constantly be on my toes.

I feel very lucky to be working with TAI. For instance, this week I have had to do a couple of new things I haven’t done before coming to the United States. I worked with a colleague on Indesign (which I have never used before) and designed an infographic for a section on the semi-annual report we are working on. With the support of my team at TAI, I also had the autonomy of planning the pages and design of the semi-annual report. All of these are very good learning experience for me.

I think before the end of my fellowship, there will be a rebirth of me with words like “transparency”, “fiscal governance”, “learning”, “grantmaking”, and “civic space” added to my vocabulary.

As I mentioned earlier, I have a deep interest in international development and my host organization is all about transparency, accountability, and improving grant learning practices in the global space. I believe I am going to learn a lot working with my team at TAI.

As for sharpening my skills in design, I plan to pursue this goal until I achieve it. Meriem has been supportive with my first design assignment here and I look forward to welcoming other outlets to hone my skills. “It always seems impossible until it is done.”