Posted on Monday, July 18, 2016
I am one among the 35 candidates selected from more than 1,000 applicants to the American India Foundation (AIF)’s Clinton Fellowship programme. To be more specific, one among the 10 Indians selected in 2015-16.
I am from Manipur, a state in north-east India bordering Myanmar. After completing my plus-two education from Kendriya Vidyalaya, Langjing (Imphal), I moved to Delhi for higher studies. I completed my BA in English Literature at Kirori Mal College, University of Delhi, in 2010. Then I decided to study for a diploma in reporting -- editorial and production at an academy in the city in 2011. Later, I received an MA in Conflict Analysis and Peace Building from the Nelson Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi.
In 2015, I found out about the fellowship through a job portal. I spent a considerable amount of time researching the programme. Reading the blogs written by former fellows helped me to frame the right answers in the application form. There is a competitive process consisting of two stages. Initially, applicants submit an application which is reviewed by a panel of judges. I was selected after the application review and personal interview. I moved to an assigned location in Ahmedabad.
The fellowship is valued at about $18,000, which is the all-inclusive cost including our stipend, insurance and airfare.
My experience of the fellowship could be described as that of a ‘roller-coaster.’ Academically, the projects we work on require a lot of research. So, by the end of the 10-month fellowship, we gain a lot of knowledge and professional experience. My project in my placement NGO involved monitoring and evaluating (M&E) a fellowship programme for the youth. The projects of other fellows in the class ranged from gender, education and public health to livelihoods and social enterprise. The skills shown by other fellows and their projects served as an inspiration for me to develop and improve in areas where I was lacking. Being part of a cohort of skilled fellows from India and the US helped me gain in terms of confidence and communication skills. It broadened my perspective about development in India.
Monitoring and evaluation is a crucial aspect of development. It is safe to say that M&E is applicable to all spheres of work about development. From budget allocation to programme implementation to assessing its impact, identifying loopholes and making suggestions and recommendations to improve the overall quality, efficiency and impact of initiatives and many more, M&E plays an important role in keeping track of progress and changes. To have acquired the basics of such an important tool, I can now look forward to improving and moving to intermediate or advanced stages of proficiency in M&E and take on even more bigger challenges. Coupled with my previous experience in policy analysis and project management, it is an important skill to possess.
I intend to work on improving my skills in M&E and find an opportunity where I can learn as well as contribute at the same time, preferably in the development sector. It would be even better if I can find something where I can utilise both my existing as well as recently acquired skills and gain new ones.
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