Expect the Unexpected: Life as Mosaic’s Carman International Fellow
When I first touched down in Moshi, Tanzania to begin my fellowship with Mosaic International, I was anticipating a year of learning and a whole host of new experiences. I was seeking an opportunity to gain new skills, overcome challenges and push myself out of my comfort zone, and that is exactly what I found through the Carman International Fellowship.
Looking back, if there’s been one constant throughout my year and a half in Tanzania, it’s that nothing is constant. No two days are the same at Building a Caring Community (BCC), which means fellows have the opportunity to engage with diverse programming areas and are consistently challenged to think creatively, identify problems and implement solutions. As a fellow, you’re based full-time in Moshi with the goal of supporting BCC, a disability service that provides day center and in-home services to roughly 200 children and young adults with intellectual disabilities.
Fellows divide their time between the BCC office and any of BCC’s eight day centers in Moshi, working across all of BCC’s program areas – education, preventative health, vocational training, access to therapy and assistive devices, caregiver programming and organizational management. Because fellows have opportunity to work across all of these areas, you gain a broad understanding of disability service provision in a low-income context and a diverse set of skills that will be applicable throughout your entire career.
Fellows hold a role with BCC that encompasses program design and planning, research, data collection, monitoring and evaluation, facilitation and training and communications – while the day-to-day work can take a variety of forms, fellows act as all-around fixers and provide guidance and advice on the growth and professionalization of the service.
Within the same week, you might spend one day conducting annual center evaluations, one day facilitating a strategic planning session for staff, one day in external meetings with some of BCC’s local partners in Moshi, one day doing a needs assessment for a new pilot project, and one day working with individual staff members to collect data on the effectiveness of their programs.
Tasks on any given day can be as small scale as helping BCC’s job coaches brainstorm a suitable job placement for one of the young adults in the vocational training program, or as large scale as facilitating a session for BCC’s center-based staff to develop indicators for the organization’s newly-implemented service quality standards.
While the ever-evolving nature of the fellow’s role can certainly keep you guessing, the unique challenges and diversity of work you experience through the fellowship provide incredible potential for personal and professional growth.
Acting as a jack-of-all-trades for BCC this year has not only given me the opportunity to learn more in areas outside of my background and comfort zone, it has allowed to me exercise and refine some of my technical skills, including conducting needs assessments, program planning, and monitoring and evaluation techniques across a variety of contexts.
Looking back on my work with BCC, one of the aspects of the fellowship I am most thankful for is the freedom to pursue special interest projects and provide my own creative direction for my work.
Despite working in a relatively self-managed role, Mosaic’s commitment to this fellowship as a growth opportunity means fellows have support when pursuing personal interest projects or exploring new areas for professional development.
While independent, self-directed work poses unique challenges, the ability to pursue passion projects alongside other day-to-day responsibilities keeps you motivated and energized throughout your fellowship term.
Reflecting on my time as the Carman International Fellow and how my own work and perspective have evolved over the course of my time at Mosaic, one thing is clear: With the huge diversity of activities a fellow undertakes and the countless opportunities for growth, there is certainly no such thing as a boring week at BCC!
If you’re interested in becoming the next Carman International Fellow, learn more here.