(That will teach you more than any classroom you have been to.)
At crowded parties when people find out I work with NGOs, I am often told, “Aww that’s so nice! I want to work with an NGO too! Can you give me a job?” To this I always ask them what they do. Some common answers are, “I work in a bank,”, “I work in an investment company,” “I am a coder.” And I say, “Aww that’s so nice! I want to work in a bank too!” or “I want to code too! Can you give me a job?” And they laugh awkwardly, because they can’t tell if I am joking or not.
Sunday, January 11, 2015, my first day in DC, when arrived I found one of fellow fellows Traina from India and Harrite from Uganda class 17 (my class, we came in the plane but she managed to get off before me) waiting for me in the arrival terminal. Out of the airport temperature was -8 “°C” I realized that my life as a nonprofit sector leader is going to change 180% as embark to be a global fellow with Heartland Alliance International.
A year spent as an Atlas Corps Fellow was full of both professional and academic challenges and opportunities for me. I thought I would dedicate a separate blog post for the purpose of describing them.
First of all, among one of my key challenges was the need to adapt to very fast, vibrant and energetic lifestyle that American working environment contains in itself. A lucky person who got a chance to become an Atlas Corps Fellow has to realize that he/she has to be fully ready both emotionally and physically for this amazing opportunity of serving as an Atlas Corps Fellow abroad. I remember that when I was serving in DC I was always thinking of one line, “With opportunity comes responsibility.”
“Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere”-Martin Luther King Jr.
Every January since the year 2000, the United States of America commemorates the life and work of the late Martin Luther King, Jr., an American pastor, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. King is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using non-violent civil disobedience.
Michele Santoro, a memorable journalist censured and banned from the public Italian television, commented the rifles storm at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a weekly satirical magazine on January 7, 2015. He expressed, “It was a war act. A massacre of bodies, and a massacre of thinking. A cartoon is not a trifle, it is a story. The cartoonist’s job is difficult and dangerous: in only one image he has to build a story, which can be violent, fittingly or unjustly brutal. He can speak about God, about what is hidden in the deep soul wrinkles, but any story can really offend God. To be hurt are our prejudices.”
Washington D.C. must be one of the most-LGBT friendly cities in the world. Every year during Halloween Week, the High Heel Drag Queen Race is a raucous, joyous celebration that attracts tens of thousands to Dupont Circle.
Bars and restaurants along this stretch would be overflowing with blinged-up, dressed up participants, supporters and spectators. The highlight is the race down 17th Street.
The drag queen persona is an important element in LGBT research, as part of the transgender profile. The drag queen is male, but chooses to dress up as a female as his self-expression, performance and entertainment. His forte is exaggerated femininity.
All I know is desperation and pain
No matter I cry, cry out loud, and loud
My chocked voice, my screaming, my tears and fears
All I see horror and hurt, All I know is desperation and pain….
All I dream is grow and shine, to fly like sparrow to enjoy the rain
But battered and abused, in despair and death, All I know is desperation and pain
“…So I guess I’ll stand by whatever you do, because even if you are not who I imagine now, I’ll support you, because maybe who I’m imagining is someone else, and you are—well you’re not someone else, you’re me.” Tiny Buddha
Exactly nine months ago in Washington DC, I write a letter to myself. When a blank sheet of paper was handed to me and an awesome AtlasCorps facilitator confidently asked us to write letters to ourselves. I thought this was a crazy idea. How could I write to myself, I debated in my mind?
It has been an incredible year. For me, the most remarkable and significant event in 2014 was my participation in the Atlas Corps Fellowship. Till very last moment, when I was on my way to the Boryspol airport to fly to the US, I couldn’t comprehend the fact that I was chosen for this amazing and prestigious Atlas Corps Fellowship to serve at NCSEJ in Washington DC. And it has almost been a year since that day! I remember clearly the day when I arrived in the Dulles Airport. My Atlas Corps journey began when I was met by a cheerful and polite Atlas Corps Fellow who agreed to meet me at the airport. At that moment, I started to feel special Atlas Corps approach and the sense of our incredible Atlas Corps community. After that, I quickly ran to the hostel to drop my bags so that I could go and not miss the Atlas Corps presentation meeting in the city which turned out to be very interesting. Prior to my arrival, I haven’t slept for a day, was super tired but I made it there and met my fellow fellows from my class and their host organizations supervisors. It all went well and I also was happy to talk in person to such amazing Atlas Corps team members as Meredith, Scott, Nicole, Abby, Kelly and others. I really started to feel like home in DC after that presentation and felt that a lot of awesome things were waiting for me in 2014.