September 5th is the most important day on my calendar. I think about it every day. That is the day that my flight leaves from San Francisco to New York, and eventually onward to India. When September 5th rolls around, the last grain of sand falls through the hourglass and my numbered days here in the town I grew up in are done for an undisclosed amount of time, maybe only for ten months, but possibly for much longer. No day passes without this creating anxiety and excitement. My “to-do” list taunts me with the chore of wrapping up my life here and getting ready for the big move to India. I’ve uprooted myself plenty of times before, but never quite like this. This is different, not only because the situation is different (the organization, the fellowship, and the new city), but more importantly, because my intention is different. I am not going on a vacation. I am not going to study. I am going to India with the American India Foundation because I am ready to make a major leap in my career. I am going with, not only an open mind, but the expectation that this fellowship will teach me new skills and open new opportunities that extend much further into the future than the next ten months. I have no intention of returning to my hometown and my old job, as much I do enjoy them. These are serious expectations, worthy of fretfulness and optimism all at once.
When I read about the accomplishments of those Clinton Fellows that have preceded me, I am simultaneously intimidated and impressed. I realize that this fellowship is of a high a caliber and produces results. I hope that when my fellowship is up, a year from now some future fellow will read about my accomplishments with similar awe. I have a broad idea of what I would like those accomplishments to be, but honestly, not yet knowing the exact nature of my position in the forthcoming fellowship, I can’t fully envision what my project will look like. This, again, makes me both excited and anxious. I have done most of what I can do to prepare myself for the upcoming experience by speaking with my soon-to-be colleagues, researching the organization, and reading the end of service documents of the last fellow to work with my new organization. I know what I have done in the past. I have expectations about what I can do in the future. All this aside, I won’t know what my project will actually be until I get there. I know that I will work hard at it and produce results. I know that when I am done I will have played a major roll in inspiring and helping a population of Indian youth become social entrepreneurs. I will have built a long-term relationship with a network of people working to revolutionize the roll of youth in society as social change-makers. I will have added a variety of project management skills to my repertoire. I will have the words “Clinton Fellow” on my resume. And, hopefully, my accomplishments will intimidate and inspire some future fellow in the same spot that I am in right now, jumping into the genesis of a major life experience.