A fellowship with Thomson Media didn't go quite as Hend Kheiralla expected in the pandemic.
At home in Sudan, I was used to working remotely for digital enterprise Andariya.
But this year, we had to deal with daily power cuts, poor internet connection and during summer I was used to having meetings drenched in sweat and wondering when my laptop battery would die. So, I wasn’t optimistic about doing an online fellowship.
I had applied to the ifa CrossCulture Programme, designed to strengthen lasting civil society relationship between Germany and the rest of the world, hoping to spend three months in Thomson Media’s office in Berlin. But it was not to be. I was torn between two choices: either settle for an online fellowship despite the technical challenges or withdraw from the programme. Eventually, I decided to choose an online fellowship and hope it worked.
Before starting my fellowship, I felt anxious and overwhelmed with how fast things were changing globally, so I decided to join my family in London. Spending time at home taught me to do more reflection and work on my personal and professional development at my own pace.
The first month of my fellowship at my host organisation went well. Christine Liehr, development manager at Thomson Media, was my mentor, and I was eager to observe, study, and read. Christine was very patient and answered all my buzzy questions.
The writing and storytelling sessions that I did with Helen Scott, who is Director of Thomson Foundation’s Sudan programme were my favourite. She taught me various ways to tell my narrative, and I’m continuing to learn.
I wondered what different ideas and thoughts might have emerged from face-to-face interactions.
Interacting with other fellows was also enlightening. And when I was all over the place and wondering when this pandemic will end, these sessions sparked a little joy in my day. However, despite having beautiful people in these virtual boxes, building long-lasting connections were very difficult.
I wondered what different ideas and thoughts might have emerged from face-to-face interactions and how cross-cultural exchange can shape our thoughts, break stereotypes, and create connections.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t a bad year after all. And the remote fellowship had more ups than downs. I enjoyed exchanging knowledge with Thomson Media and the brainstorming sessions and hope that it will prove valuable in my future career.
Hend's fellowship is part of the CrossCulture Programme which is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office through ifa (Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations).
Hend works with Andariya, a bilingual digital cultural platform from and on Sudan, South Sudan & Uganda. It strives to be a pioneering, innovative, multi-media digital platform for contemporary issues and edutainment through creating and curating cultural stories.