By Farah Ajlouni |

I was thrilled when I found out I was selected for the Daniel Pearl fellowship. It felt like a reward after all these years of hard work. I was ready to embark on the 6-month journey to the U.S. to take my career to the next level.

As I landed in Columbia, Missouri, I was welcomed by David Reed, the director of the program. From the very first day, it felt like being part of a family and not a program. The faculty and board members were so encouraging and constantly instilled in us the belief that we can make a difference in the world. They equipped us with all the skills and motivation we needed to go out there and be the best we can be!

It is also very interesting to be a part of a program that selects Fellows specifically from developing countries. I realized that although we come from different backgrounds and cultures and speak different languages, we all face the same challenges in journalism and work toward the same goal: Improving our work to have a positive impact on our societies. I have no doubt that each and every one of us will have great accomplishments, the friendships will last, and we will one day meet again to laugh about the challenges we once had.

Before arriving to the U.S., I knew that part of the program required me to work in an American news outlet. I was eager to be part of an international news channel based in the U.S. but I never thought I would be allocated with CBS News in New York, specifically with the 60 Minutes show — a show that I watched from a very young age and became a big fan of as I grew older.

Just one year ago, I was covering stories in the deserts of Jordan. Today, I am working on 11th Avenue in Manhattan, in the same office as the most accomplished, prominent, world-renowned journalists — such as Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, Lara Logan, and many more.

I feel very lucky to be part of such an amazing team raising the standards of journalism worldwide and setting the bar high when it comes to production. I was impressed by the level of research done for every story. One episode at 60 Minutes can take weeks if not months or years of intensive research, interviews, fact checking and reviews. I now understand what it takes to produce a successful show of this caliber.

I am currently helping some producers with research for upcoming stories and reaching out to my personal contacts to set up possible interviews with influential people and leaders. I can’t wait to see the results and input of my research on the screen. I think the best part is yet to come…