I guess it's about time I update everyone with what has been going on recently in my life - first of all, sincere apologies for the delay (I've been busy). I kind of had a feeling this might happen (I definitely let my blog slide by the end of my time in France when I lived there 2 years ago), but not really by choice... anyways, since today is February 29th, I'm gaining an extra day, right? (Just kidding.) But seriously, things are finally calm enough for me to take the time to sit down and write a little update about my life, so here goes! (I've also update my itinerary page in case you are interested in following my travels over the past few months.)
Last time I really wrote to you was in December - how long ago 2011 now seems. We had a wonderful last week of work before the holidays, not accomplishing very much 'work' work but instead decorating the office, throwing a Christmas party for all of the employees' children, and having a Secret Santa party between a group of 20 colleagues. I finally got into the Christmas spirit even though it was well over 25 degrees each day, and had a wonderful time - I remember leaving for my vacation thinking that I never wanted to leave Peru, and was looking forward to returning to work on January 5th.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Monday, February 20, 2012
Four weeks ago I began a new field placement with the Ministry of Environment of Peru in Lima. Transitioning from work at the water utility in small-town Huacho to living in the financial district of Lima has been quite a drastic change, and has led me to wonder: what exactly is international development, and am I still doing it?
Discussing this topic with other international volunteers has led to quite a few interesting responses. Some people definitely think that doing ‘field work’ involves not working in an office, but the reality is that you spend most of your time in front of a computer or at meetings, just as you would back home. An American volunteer that I recently met told me that she had left her office day job in Ohio in the hopes of finding an alternative abroad (and also strengthen her Spanish), only to find herself working 40 hours a week at a desk in Lima (yet still enjoying herself).
Meanwhile, most of the international volunteers and interns that I have spoken with are experiencing the life of working for an NGO: funding difficulties, changes in mandates, employees leaving unexpectedly, shortage of supplies, and questionable governance. They are mostly working directly with the community and really contributing to development activities from the ground up.