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By Berekia Divanga

October 15, 2019

Imagine being in an action movie. There is a mission that needs to be accomplished, and you volunteer to do the job because you are passionate about the purpose of this mission. As part of your training, you get to meet with people who are just as passionate about the mission as you are. Additionally, you get the opportunity to learn from experts in this field. Everyone around you entrusts you with this job, helps you become a better agent, and commits to support you along the way. Whether or not you have been on this kind of mission before, you will certainly be thrilled to embark on this journey.

An action movie is my very unconventional way of describing my journey as a Lead for North Carolina (LFNC) Fellow. Although this journey is not as intense as the typical action movie, it does share a common theme: pursuit. This LFNC Fellowship is the first step in my professional career to travel to rural communities around the world and serve as an environmental policy analyst. I believe any place can become home. And I’m glad that Washington, NC has welcomed me throughout my time here.

This past summer, I have learned how to define, explain, and support my pursuit. From the ChangeMaker Summit in DC to the Summer Academy at the UNC School of Government in Chapel Hill, LFNC has offered several learning opportunities to help me become a good public servant. Without a doubt, the whole summer training was thorough and filled with invaluable lessons. It prepared me morally and intellectually for my position in the City of Washington, NC.

However, like most characters on a mission in an action movie, I was hesitant to fully embark on my journey. Even with all the proper tools and all the support that the LFNC team promised to offer, I still did not know how the community that I committed myself to serve would welcome a non-local, recent college-graduate coming to work in their town.

Despite my hesitation, I did not back out, and I am glad that I did not. To my surprise, everyone was very welcoming. They all seemed excited to have me, which made me even more thrilled to work for the City. So far, I have had the opportunity to meet and shadow people from different departments, explore some parts of the city as well as neighboring communities, and help with different projects that will benefit the community. I’ve also found a great turkey and cranberry sandwich at one of the local restaurants!

I know that there is still more work to do and more to the city that I need to explore, so I am looking forward to learning and working with and for this great city to help increase capacity in their community.