The last couple of weeks felt like a roller coaster. The excitement for being an AP fellow in Nepal this summer was many times overshadowed by the anxiety of trying to pack for the trip, get my immunizations in order, clean my DC apartment for the person who is staying there while I’m gone and prepare for training. Oh, and of course on top of that finish my classes!
Definitely writing my papers and study for my exams were not easy tasks. Every time I tried to concentrate on issues related with public finance and labor economics, I started thinking about Nepal. How is it going to be there? Where should I live? What will I eat? Will I adjust to a different work environment? What will it be like to spend my days in a land that a couple of months ago seemed totally remote?
Having my Nepal guide on my desk didn’t help for my concentration…I often find myself reading about Nepal’s history or trying to figure out Kathmandu’s map (with no luck, I have to say) instead of thinking about my model for my labor economics final paper. But again
at all odds, I did it. One day before starting training, I submitted my last paper and was ready to start dreaming – interruptions and guilt free – about my summer adventure.
Training was intense to say the least. In just 5 days, I became an expert in editing videos, taking pictures – maybe not worth a Pulitzer, but close enough – writing blogs and doing podcasts. Most of these things were completely new to me! I also met the other fellows, learned about what they will be doing this summer and what motivated them to become part of AP. I found it amazing how, even though we have different backgrounds, go to different schools, do different programs and will probably have different career paths in the future, at the end we all want the same: to feel that we can have an impact on the organizations that we will be working for, no matter how small or large. We all want to go to the field, get our hands dirty and learn from working in a different environment. We want to advocate for the rights of those whose voice many times is not heard. We want to bring our expertise, ideas and enthusiasm to local organizations that work hard every day to fight for those ideals.
I finished training week with a feeling of purpose that I didn’t have before. Trying to help others and have an impact on developmental projects is what drove my entire career. It is the reason why I’m doing a PhD in Public Policy, and why I worked in international development before that. I applied to this fellowship with the particular idea of having some real field experience before starting the dissertation part of my Phd. I thought it would be a good experience for me given my interests and expertise in monitoring and evaluation. Plus I saw an opportunity to get ideas for my own research through this wonderful experience! That purpose got transformed during those days sitting at Georgetown University with the other fellows.
I realized that my contribution to CONCERN – the Nepalese NGO I will be working for this summer that rescues children from illegal work in stone quarries and brick kilns and put them back in school – goes beyond my particular expertise in one of the issues they need support with, like monitoring and evaluation. I am actually going to be part of CONCERN, working side by side with its members in very different tasks – from developing their web page and promoting their work through different platforms to help with the fundraising Global Giving campaigns. I have a huge responsibility ahead of me.
I left training happy and knowing that I will learn more from this fellowship than I ever imagined. More importantly, I left with the feeling that I was embarking in an amazing adventure that will shape both my personal and professional life.
Now I’m writing this blog having a coffee at Frankfurt airport, in the first of my layovers. I don’t know why I thought spending 8 hours in Frankfurt was going to be a good idea – but here I am! Waiting for my flight to Delhi, a 6 hours layover there and finally the last plane that will take me to Kathmandu.
Just a couple of hours ago, my friends dropped me at Dulles Airport. They told me that they would take me only if I cried at the gate…I have to say some tears rolled down my face as I said goodbye and realized I will not see them for almost 3 months. My friends were the first ones to support me in my decision to go to Nepal, and my biggest fans! They are the best! And even though I will miss them, I know they are as excited as I am for this experience I’m about to begin.
Next time I post I will be in Kathmandu (and hopefully more rested). I look forward to start experiencing Nepal and getting more involved with CONCERN’s projects. And writing all about them!
Posted By Cynthia Boruchowicz (Nepal)
Posted Jun 1st, 2017