Hassan Hijazi

My journey with Atlas Corps started when I clicked on a link on Linkedin to apply for a one-year fellowship in the states. To be honest, I was applying for scholarships to get a masters degree. I finished the first short form.

After a week, Atlas Corps responded to me saying that I’m through the next step, which is the long-form. I had to talk about each skill and experience I have, it wasn’t easy, but it indeed helped me to understand my skills more.

After a couple of weeks, I received an email from Atlas Corps stating that I am through the next step! Which is an interview! I was happy and excited. After the interview, I felt relaxed and happy. I felt like I will go through the next step (which is the hardest). Being pick with a host organization.

Now. A host organization picked my application, and they want to have an interview with me! Kiva, a microfinance organization in San Francisco, California. I was happy and nervous at the same time. I never heard about Kiva, so I went through their website.

“Kiva is simply an organization that supports the most financially marginalized people around the world by giving them loans through online crowdfunding. What a wonderful concept.”

I went through the interviews with Kiva, I was sure I did good enough to make them pick me.

I kept checking my email every 5 minutes for more than two weeks. But I was nervous and excited to be picked. And that’s it on the 16th of May I received an official offer from Kiva to become an Impact and Storytelling Fellow. 

I didn’t mention it above, but my parents didn’t know that I applied to go to the states for a year. They only knew when I received the official offer from Kiva, I guess they got used to getting breaking news from me.

Pack and prepare for once in a lifetime experience

I’ve got my US visa in record time. However, receiving my flight tickets was kind of the thing that made me realize that I don’t have time to pack and finish my essential papers in Amman before leaving.

Arriving Washington DC was great. I don’t think I had jetlag, the trick is to sleep at least for an hour in-flight, and that’s it! 

Now, important stuff! Meeting my fellow fellows. I’ve met a couple of them on the way to DC, either at Frankfurt airport or in Amman. I realized this journey is going to be great after meeting them. It feels good knowing you will meet many new faces and they’re going to become part of your journey.

The orientation week was great, everything was well organized, the presentations were necessary for our year journey. Understanding the health system, communications, and culture. 

The most crucial part was sitting in that room, with brilliant minds from all over the world are around you. At that moment, I’ve seen diversity and inclusive for real. People from different backgrounds, cultures, religions, and countries. 

I knew if I ask any question about any subject, someone would have the answer. I was sitting with social leaders, geniuses, and information sources.

At the third day of the orientation, I started to get excited about my placement at Kiva. I couldn’t wait to get there to start and to meet my new colleagues. 

One more pack to San Francisco

Waking up at 4:30 AM for a flight is not my thing, but I was kind of excited about the trip though. I arrived in San Francisco, my fellow fellows and I were on the same flight to San Francisco on Friday, weekend! Two of my friends welcomed me at the airport as they also arrived from another state to spend a weekend in San Francisco. 

The first thing we’ve done is going crabbing, such a great idea. Learn how to catch crabs, and then learn how to eat them. I guess a bay area boy needs such a skill. Then we went for a beautiful trip to the north via highway 1. Napa, California, the best wine I’ve had so far. The weather is very similar to the climate in Jordan. It’s great to start your one year in California by taking a cool road trip to see what it is like!

A legit crab size

Back to San Francisco, the first day with Kiva. Oh yes! That’s what I expected! That’s what an ideal workplace should be like. Open space and open minds.

Kiva work on developing great minds from all over the world through their internship and fellowship program. And that’s when I met all of the other Kiva interns and fellows.

It was a week full of learning, fun, and great food! So, a week to learn about Kiva’s work. Yes, it’s more than meets the eyes. The platform is straightforward and easy to understand. You lend $25 to someone in need, then you get your money back within 1 year. Simple. But it’s actually not. There’s a big army working behind the scene to make sure everything is going smoothly.

Kiva fellows and interns

So far, so good

My job is Impact and Storytelling. I will also work with the marketing department. So technically, I have three main objectives. Marketing, Impact, and Storytelling. I have so much to learn! 

The people I work with are amazing, the atmosphere is terrific. Kiva has a dog-friendly policy. Which means we can actually play with dogs in the office.

I’m very looking forward to this year, and what it will bring for me, and of course what I’m going to bring to it.

Until the next blog post.


Atlas Corps fellow serving at Kiva