Traveling requires an overwhelming amount of preparation. At the beginning of the summer, I thought September 8th seemed so faraway and that the summer months would seem to last forever. I was so wrong. While the time seemed to go too quickly, I feel that by speaking to AIF alumni, getting in touch with new fellows, and the support that the AIF fellowship team has extended have all contributed to a very positive overall pre-departure experience.
An the beginning of the summer, I got in touch with Jonathan Ripley, a former Clinton fellow. I was fortunate enough to meet him during the interview process in Boston where we realized we had a great deal in common. We shared our international experiences over a fabulous cup of coffee at Seven Stars Bakery in Providence and discussed a wide-range of development work topics. Jonathan has done wonderful work around HIV/AIDS, work he did during his fellowship and has continued to do since. As a fellow who is going to work on education issues in India, I enjoyed learning more about health-related issues from Jonathan. Furthermore, it became extremely clear that all of these issues overlap and impact one another. The diverse problems within fields and between fields are complex and I believe the fellowship experience will be both challenging and rewarding.
During the NGO matching process, I was fortunate enough to converse with Kirsten Anderson who has done absolutely outstanding work with AID INDIA in the education field. Kirsten reached out for me during the matching process and told me a great deal about the organization and the fellowship experience as a whole. I was very impressed with her work. In fact, her experience was so positive that she decided to extend the fellowship for one additional year in order to complete her project. In addition to Kirsten’s enthusiasm and intelligence, which I became aware of through our lively SKYPE conversation, I came to admire her ambition and her ability to self-regulate her own fellowship project. In order to produce a TESOL video series for young learners, Kirsten applied for and received a prestigious grant. It seems she is an exemplary fellow and I am inspired by the work she has done.
Finally, I was delighted when I received an e-mail from the AIF fellowship team with a name and number for a former AIF fellow who would become another mentor to me. Tatjana Johnson, a former fellow who worked with an education NGO in Uttaranchal, spoke highly of her experience in India. Although I’ll be spending most of my time in Mumbai, Tatjana has reminded me of the chances fellows have to travel. In fact, it is required that we visit one of the other fellows during the year. Because I will be spending most of my time in an urban area, I think it would be wonderful to visit a fellow who is in a more rural area working on education-related issues.
I am really looking forward to a wonderful year!