My YALI Fellowship experience – 2019 YALI MWF [2nd Part]
The YALI MWF remains an experience filled with an incredible amount of abundance. In a previous article, I talked about how I noticed almost everything as we got out of our comfort zone. My goal here is to give you as many details as possible in terms of accommodation and facilities.
I attended Indiana University for a 6-week training in Civic leadership. We had our YALI MWF in two different campuses located respectively in Indianapolis and Bloomington. I didn’t really check the campus on the internet but I heard that Bloomington figured as one of the most beautiful campuses in the US.
The facilities during the YALI MWF
The facilities are different depending on the host university you’re in. Some participants of the YALI MWF complained because they lived in a big city and had to share a room with another fellow. I love my room tidy and neat and hate above all the possible noise and light when I sleep. In the past years, I had a few experiences with other African students back in Morocco and China. And for sure, an eventual friction can appear when there’s no respect and communication.
We had a flat designed to accommodate 4 people in 4 separate bedrooms. Having a room on my own was such a relief!
Two fellows share one bathroom and we all share a living room with a kitchen. Fortunately for me too, I had two amazing flatmates from Botswana and Nigeria. We were normally 4 but it turned out we’re only 3 in a flat, how cool is that?
Back in China, I remember when two roommates fought and yelled at each other in the middle of the night. That incident woke every student on the same floor and left in us a big trauma so that I still remember it until now. During the orientation session at the US Embassy, another YALI Fellow shared how he almost had a fight just because of misunderstandings like this. And once again, I expected this kind of event to happen. But in the end, none of the above-mentioned occurred. I had two incredible flatmates. My friend from Botswana even told me that I was the least troublesome flatmate he ever had.
What about the laundry?
Another question troubled me before coming to the US: what about our laundry? Do we have to wash everything by hand? Is there a common washer for everyone in the same building? I thought it would be the second case. In Morocco, we had to wash everything by hand because none of my Malagasy flatmates could afford a washing-machine and I did that for 5 years! The situation got a little better when I moved to Beijing for my 2-year Master’s degree. We had three washing-machines in a building of roughly 80 students. But the surprise was total during the YALI MWF when I saw the washer and dryer in our flat! You have a 18-kg load washing-machine and dryer for 3-4 people. I loved using the washer there, why? Right now, I use a 6-kg load middle-range and Made in China one. I need to replace it by the way because it can explode anytime during the spin (or maybe I exceeded the 6-kg, lol). Back in the US, the washer just “swallowed” everything, even if I put all of my clothes and bed sheets. Another surprise! Discovering new standards and new ways of life. It exposed us to different realities, even with what you consider as trivial as a washing-machine.
The YALI MWF and the Taste of America
“Be careful with American food,” commented a friend on a Facebook post prior to our arrival in the US. I love food (who doesn’t?) and I just eat a lot, even more during the YALI MWF. I also get easily fat. Maybe it’s my body type (the 3 types are Ectomorph, Endomorph and Mesomorph).
I think I gained more than 8 pounds within 7 weeks. “Eat as much as you can because they will throw everything otherwise” said one of our mentors. Knowing how much I hate wasting food, you guessed I followed that rigorously to a point I’d see my round belly doubled within a few weeks. Thanks Gosh there was the gym!
On our first day, we had an orientation session with provided breakfast. I love this expression because that means lots of food, lots of choices and sometimes lots of waste too. They always placed a big waste bin not far from the tables to throw everything after. I felt so bad sometimes when we left many untouched food behind. In Madagascar (in Africa?) we would rush to take a plastic bag or tupperware and put the rest for the next meal. Actually, along with other fellows, we sometimes brought food back home, sometimes we didn’t. During business meetings and company visits, food is provided and they’re really generous with it. At the summit, we will have provided breakfast and lunch at the hotel.
And I felt so grateful all along the journey because everything was so abundant. We were granted around 1600$ stipend for the food, books and miscellaneous costs. Again, remember the difference between host universities.
If I have to do it all over again, what should I take into account?
- I don’t really regret eating much during the YALI MWF. Natural and organic food is cheaper than junk food and I knew I’d control myself back in Madagascar. I loved the hamburger, pizza and 5 GUYS milkshakes (and probably more than I could remember! I just regretted not properly wearing my tie because I couldn’t button my shirt around my neck, yes I gained some weight! But as I’m writing this, one month later, I went back to my normal shape thanks to a gym routine I built back in the US.
- I cooked a lot to save money and allocate that into some more durable stuff. Therefore, I ordered lots of things from Amazon but mostly visited different places such as Chicago, Washington and New York.