Getting an email saying that I have been accepted in the Professional Fellows Program, a lot of excitement, preparing for the visa appointment, attending orientation, taking online courses, packing for travel, a lot of excitement again, long transit, and finally arriving to the US and meeting with beautiful coordinators. This is the journey before starting the Professional Fellows Program, which is full of excitements, components, ups and downs and plenty of learning opportunities.
The Professional Fellows Program is an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. State Department and organized by Legacy International. The program has several components between placing fellows in host organization for 3 weeks, getting trainings and sessions, attending and organizing several events to get exposed to the civil society context in the U.S. and implementing follow on projects in the Fellows’ countries.
I would like to shed light on the internship component which is, for me, one of the most important components of the program. My host organization is Serve DC, The Mayor’s Office on Volunteerism. The main mission of Serve DC, as per my understanding, is creating the culture of volunteerism through encouraging more young people to serve and to volunteer as well as encouraging more NGOs to recruit volunteers. It is all about building social capital where each citizen in the community has the social responsibility to help the other people around them.
What attracted me first when I came to the organization is that the concept of service is embedded internally before externally. The office typically applies what it preaches. In the preparation for one of their biggest annual conferences, you can see all the people in the office working as in a hive to make this event happen and succeed, regardless of each one’s position. You can see a PhD holder folding chairs, directors serving food, etc…
One of the things also that attracted me when I joined Serve DC, is their willingness to help you and to provide you with a learning opportunity inside the place. The Serve DC team truly believes that the benefit should be one that is two ways. They always ask me about what I want to learn. They helped me a lot consolidating my follow on project which I am going to implement when I am back home.
In Serve DC, I had a huge learning opportunity not only from preparing for and attending some events, but also from having access to very useful resources from the website of Corporation for National and Community Service, which also was an intellectual dose on how to implement and evaluate community service projects.
My experience in Serve DC was not only fulfilling on a professional level, but also on a personal level. I was engaged with the team very quickly. The office has an amazing mixture between professionalism and friendship.
I am delighted to be part of the Professional Fellows Program that provided me with the opportunity to work in and to know Serve DC. The credit, of course, goes to Legacy International for the amazing organization. I am very grateful, specifically, to be part of the Algerian and Egyptian delegation. I am coming back to Egypt full of energy and life lasting friendships.
Aya is a social sector expert having spent more than ten years working in voluntary and professional capacities. She is also part of a global network of fellows through her current role as a fellowship representative with the leading social investment organization Ashoka at the Arab World division. Aya is planning to work for a grassroots organization mobilizing and doing meaningful work on the ground. She hopes to work with NGOs and incubators to expand her network of professionals to achieve a wider scope for her intended work.
Learn more from the Fellows in the Fellows Blog