Renaissance Hotel lobby, Washington DC
Back from Fulbright orientation in Washington DC!! Getting put up in the Renaissance Hotel was sweet as pie but orientation was a great help. There were alumn from Bangladesh sharing their stories, photos (check out Geoffrey Hiller's amazing photos of Bangladesh), literature and tips for buying cell phones and American waffles in Dhaka. It has been inspiring yet complete information overload. And if you looked at my first post, orientation confirmed the ability of Dhaka to give you vertigo.
This gathering also confirmed my contentment with this scholarship program. I did not feel that any of the grantees that I met were in any way rude or undeserving of this grant. Everyone was trying to learn more about the next year of lives but were also sharing reasons for their decisions and hopes for their project. It may seem obvious but everyone was motivated, and enthusiastic which is a great energy to thrive in. I certainly worshiped my fellow NYC roommate, working on her PhD at 24.
I was able to listen to other alumn on their first international research grant who admitted that it was difficult to be their own boss. I was comforted in my own lack of focus, slightly fearing my own inadequacy of completing goals with no pressure from outside sources. My fellow grantees traveling to Bangladesh were intelligent, and warmhearted with a sense of humor. I met other intelligent alumn from different countries working on similar anti-trafficking projects that I plan to keep in touch with.
One of the research alumns from Sri Lanka (who, coincidently, research anti-trafficking programs) said something that rang completely true: for anytime that you are feeling alone, remember why you choose this scholarship, this project and this country. Lucky for me, it's written on my wrist - paagli didi.
the tattoo in Bengali on my right wrist
And of all the things that must be done before my departure (you know, like vaccines and paperwork and packing), I feel that I am ready with the right attitude: flexibility, perseverance, and an openness to serendipity.