My Fellowship Journey: A Road to Discover a New Self

The American English Dictionary  (1) defines self-discovery as follows: “becoming aware of one’s true potential, character, motives, etc.

I always had this thought in my mind that I am not what I am and I need to find myself or I need to know myself as I get amazed by my own actions and reaction towards things and situations. Being a person who never left her house for more than a month, I always felt that was a major reason that I am not able to find my actual self and see who I am actually because I never get the chance to test myself as an individual.

I always got protected layers of love and care, which turned my experience to be very different from my other friends who stay by themselves in a big city and do everything by themselves.

Happy me with a basket of my own grown spinach (Picture Credit: Sunil).

I always questioned myself, why I have so much confusion about things and why others know what they want to do and I need to give a lot of effort to only figure out what I want. And I was thriving to explore my actual myself, and since the time I got to know that I am selected for the AIF Clinton  Fellowship, I was getting this energy that this will be the starting point of what I want to know, learn, unlearn about myself. As whatever I knew about myself is a mirror of how people see me and what they say about me. I already had goals in my mind that I wanted to find the purpose of my life, what I want and what motivates me most to do anything in life, how all the lived experiences made me do things I do now, my childhood actions which interfere with my decisions till now and what makes me happy. In a nutshell, it included happiness, fulfillment, clarity, and maybe even enlightenment! 

SHG Meeting with Women Farmers in Chikiti Block (Picture Credit: Adinarayan).


Odia Language class teacher and his wife.

This fellowship journey of mine was like a roller coaster ride for me, as it was full of ups and downs. Sometimes, in one single day, I can say I lived a week of life. At the start of my fellowship, I used to stay alone in the nearby accommodation of my office in Gopalpur, Odisha. This part of Odisha is on the border where 50% of people speak Telugu and 50% Odia. So it was very difficult for me to communicate with the people and that’s where I felt was lost again and my excitement went down.

But the unexpected love and care of people with whom I was working made it easy for me to survive in the few starting days, and then I started understanding Odia because Hindi and Odia both have Sanskrit as their origin. This simple sounding but difficult skill made my stay comfortable and livable, but this was not enough for me as I was missing a lot of things while working. I started feeling incomplete and lost without the care and love that I used to get in my safety net, which then started affecting my mental health.

But half of me was still happy that I was getting what I expected from my work and glad I was in a setting where I could do what I planned as a professional. The same cycle went through till mid of the fellowship period, and till now I got this understanding that whatever is going on, the difficulties and the frustration of not being around your loved ones is teaching me what I wanted and it’s going to be like this, tough and draining, and that’s what motivated me to to go on in the process of learning and unlearning.

Walking towards a New Morning in Nuabandhu Village (Picture Credit: Ekta).

With all the goals and expectations I find this journey very helpful and empowering. Without doubt, I can say I have fulfilled my goals in a way where I can say that the journey of my AIF Clinton Fellowship was an incredible experience and that everyone should do something like this once in their lifetime to have such an experience, which is very difficult to get in any other setting either in school, college or workspace. 


1 .Dictionary, Collins. “Self-Discovery.” Collins Dictionary, 2020,

Sahana is serving as an American India Foundation (AIF) Clinton Fellow with Voluntary Integration for Education and Welfare of Society (VIEWS) in Gopalpur, Odisha. For her Fellowship project, she is supporting women self-help groups in launching social enterprises focused on organic farming practices to popularize the use of organic versus chemical fertilizers in the region. Sahana is a 23-year-old woman passionate to work towards gender equality. She has completed her Master’s degree in the discipline of social work with a specialization in rural development, mental health, disability, and counselling. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in political science. She has interned with Roshini, working with government school adolescent girls on life skills and creating a module on cyber security. She has also worked for the community in a slum in Delhi called Seelampur on different issues including gender, livelihood, education, and disability as part of her social work degree course. She was a part of the Youth Accountability Advocate (YAA), working towards understanding the needs of young people on sexual and reproductive health and rights. As a YAA member, she has been selected by the ‘Women Delivers’ in 2019 to share her experience and learnings in their international conference in Vancouver, Canada, with more than 8000 participants from all over the world. Sahana has been actively volunteering for an organisation called Pehchan for girls education in the peripheries of New Delhi. With AIF Clinton Fellowship, Sahana aspires to gain in-depth knowledge of the diversity in socio-economic, cultural, and educational fabric of India. She aims to hone her skills and build perspectives of working and solution generation in development sector.

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