First impressions from Chicago shared by PFP fellow Tatiana Chirilenco

May, 3 2016

"The first week of my Professional Fellowship has been one of most intense and exciting in my life, full of many first. Not only did I flew over Atlantic, got to live in three different time zones (Chisinau, Washington and Chicago) but had the chance to meet people from all over the world representing 18 countries.


Our 10 h flight to Washington was easier to endure than I expected. During this time I had the opportunity to discover my fellow colleagues from Moldova. Evening Washington met us with beautiful summer temperature. Our first day in Washington was full of emotions and expectations. We got to meet all our fellows, had the most interesting training on leadership provided by the renowned professor Sam Potolicchio and had the opportunity to discover Washington and its most prominent buildings.

After spending two days in Washington in trainings and orientation sessions we flew to our worksite placement cities. The geography of our worksite placements spreads from Washington D.C to Honolulu in Hawaii. I was assigned to conduct my fellowship in Chicago, Illinois, at the ForeFront organization. Founded in 1974, ForeFront (which may translate as "The leading/the most important") is a membership association for nonprofits, philanthropy, public agencies and advisers. Organization provides education, advocacy, thought leadership, and project management to attract investment to the sector, develop top talent, improve systems and policies, and build organizational capacity. I feel fortunate since I will get to work in a very similar environment as I do back at home . During my fellowship, I expect to gain first-hand knowledge about US organizations and institutions and build networks and relationships with US counterparts .

I am here in Chicago with other 6 fellows from Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, and Ukraine. We are very lucky to be in the custody of the World Chicago, the organization that supports American Councils in this program. Thanks to World Chicago we got the opportunity to meet Ed Mazur, professor of Chicago history who showed us around Chicago and shared with us his knowledge.

One of the most excitement part of the program is the privilege to be hosted and live in an American family. Together with my host mom we share the same age and the same interest working both in the field of nonprofit. I fell like I have so much to learn from her. She has been so welcoming and kind thus making it easier for me to accommodate.


During the weekend I had the chance to participate in my first baby shower, celebrating the coming birth of the child of my host's mom friend. Also enjoyed a day of excitement and amazement in the Museum of Science and Industry of Chicago.

As I write this I am getting ready for tomorrow for my first day at my new work. So looking forward to seeing what the week to come is bringing.


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