The Strength of the Fellowship

I  had dreamt of coming and working in India for quite some time. I undoubtedly had many expectations of what India would be like. Before coming here I had studied and worked abroad in several parts of Africa so I had more than just a taste of the developing world. I knew India would be different but I just didn’t know how.

It is said that India is a world where contradictions abound and you can rest assure they do. There is the world of ancient spiritualism and the world of modern materialism; the world of urban slums verses the world of fancy high rise apartments; the begging woman in a burqa with her baby next to the business man in the back seat of his fancy Audi with his driver taking charge. This country abounds with so many vast arrays of colors, music, people, and food. Some find it overwhelming and some find it intoxicating.

I can’t say that Hyderabad is an easy place to live but as my mom says, “You have never chosen the easy way.” Just as anywhere, there are good days and there are bad days. However, when I look at what gets me through the tough days and what keeps me persevering through….It’s the Fellowship.

My time here in Hyderabad is about halfway to the finish line. My placement has been a challenging one but I continue to grow, even if I can’t see it right now. So, I reach out to my Fellows via email, Whatsapp, gchat, etc. You see, the Fellowship is like taking two paths at once. You have the organization you have been placed with and you have your AIF Fellowship.

The Fellowship has been one of the most rewarding times of my life. I can’t imagine not having this group with me in my next position! Of course we all have different experiences, different placements, different and unique challenges but in some way we all can relate. We can undoubtedly make each other laugh when you think there is no way a smile could come upon your face at that moment. We can confront each other when something goes wrong and bring it back full circle. Perhaps one of the most amazing parts is sharing this experience with both Indians and Americans. It just wouldn’t be the same without the co-existence.

One of the best parts is when you have Fellows come to visit. I have another Fellow that I get to share my life here with in Hyderabad, a.k.a my best buddy, and when we get to host a Fellow it is always so rewarding. One example is when one of the Indian Fellows came to visit and gladly offered to take me to the local book depot to help me find a book of famous Indian stories from his childhood. This past weekend we had another Fellow visit who really helped me see a different side to Hyderabad, more of a historical side, that has given me much more of an appreciation for the city.

This past month several of us traveled to Kerala together where I made memories and strengthened friendships that will last me a lifetime. Afterwards we met up with the rest of our Fellows and the staff for our Midpoint Conference. While there we got to bond, share our challenges, and create new areas to dive into for the rest of our time here. I can’t wait to spend more time and grow more with this absolutely amazing group of individuals.


Gabrielle's passion for international public health began during a summer spent in South African townships, where she taught HIV/AIDS prevention to middle and high school students. She subsequently studied the language and culture of isiZulu as a Fulbright Hays scholar at the University of Natal, attempting to gain an understanding from the Zulu people of how HIV/AIDS impacts the individuals and their communities as a whole. Her education and professional experience lie largely in the areas of health promotion with an emphasis on HIV/AIDS, water and sanitation issues, and human rights. In addition to interning with UNAIDS in Dakar, Senegal, she was recently a Field Manager with the LifeStraw Carbon for Water campaign in Western Provinces, Kenya. Outside of work she is an avid reader, a classically trained opera singer, and enjoys running and watching sports. Gabrielle is thrilled to come to India as a Clinton Fellow, and is looking forward to expanding her knowledge of public health innovations in such a vibrant and entrepreneurial environment. She will be working with Healing Fields Foundation, an Ashoka Fellow led organization recognized for its pioneer work in the areas of health financing and community health education based in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.

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6 thoughts on “The Strength of the Fellowship

  1. “One of the best parts is when you have Fellows come to visit.”..Undoubtedly..
    Great Post G..Beautifully explained fellows bonding….

  2. Gabrielle
    We may use parts of your blog for recruitment to the Fellowship. Over the years I have seen/heard similar sentiments expressed and I think it is one of the greatest takeaways for the Fellows beyond their actual experience . You meet people you did not know and in ten months you leave with some of your best friends.
    In a LOTR analogy this is indeed a brotherhood ( pardon the gender) where you have come to Mordor and Orudruin ( no negative connotation for India) to destroy/ modify/shape your perceptions and priorities for your life . In doing so you become better citizens of Middle Earth.


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