Nine months ago, I was flying from Tunisia to start this Fellowship with a pre-determined plan. As a naturally anxious person, making plans and sort of having a TO DO list for this year helped me a lot in my decision of quitting my job, leaving my family and friends for the unknown. I felt it was necessary for me to anticipate the professional and social activities that I would undertake during my Fellowship period. I planned to improve X skill, to come back with an offer from an international organization, planned to travel and even set a list of cities I will visit. I planned to catch up with old friends from university living here that I haven’t seen since few years … (I am not going to expose all the plans I did because it would be an endless blog)

From the moment I came to the US, all these plans kept changing. First, I had to change to another organization and another position and another supervisor. I had also to move from the west coast to the east coast so the check list for cities I was expecting to visit was not relevant anymore, I had to come up with a new list including new cities that could fit my budget. I have also come to realize that the old friends I knew in university changed (and so did I) so finding time to meet with was not a priority for them anymore. To be honest, this felt disappointing at the beginning and I kept saying to myself :”This is not what I signed for!”

Now, I realize how lucky I was that my plans fell through because I was offered better ones. The organization that I ended up serving with provided me with outstanding learning experiences and projects. I lost few old friends but met new extraordinary ones. I participated in inspiring events and conferences and expanded my professional network. I learned a lot about international development and nonprofit related work. I discovered DC area and was surprised about the charm of this district. I took time for myself which allowed me for the first time to rethink my values and my goals and it felt great. I have expected this year only to be a professional experience and an opportunity to discover the US, but this year turned out to be a life changing journey with precious moments and lifetime friends.

There is undoubtedly great power locked inside the unexpected and much to be gained from learning how to adjust to what is different from what was presumed. We are usually busy wondering why things are not going as expected that we fail to see the new opportunities that are given to us.

All we can to do is be hopeful embrace what life offers as it is!

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