My internship at the UNESCO Office in Brazil has ended! It’s a cliche, but that doesn’t make it any less true: time has absolutely flown by. Not just this summer internship either. This time last year, I was returning home from Peace Corps to start my master’s at Penn. Now I’m one semester away from finishing. (And to those of my cohort who have finished, congratulations!)
During my last few days at the office, I was been busy reading recent project evaluations in Portuguese and writing up summaries in English for UNESCO Headquarters. Poring over these evaluations was interesting for me. I simultaneously learned about how projects were planned and implemented as well as how they might have been planned and implemented better. I learned how evaluators designed and conducted their evaluations, e.g. what methodologies were used, who contributed feedback and how, etc. Of course on top of all that, I also learned a ton of technical Portuguese.
I squeezed in a few last touristy activities before I left Brasília and Brazil. Happily, Eid al-Adha was a staff holiday for UNESCO, and I used my day off to visit the National Congress of Brazil, one of Brasília’s most famous landmarks. Tours are offered in English and other languages, but I joined a Portuguese language tour. We visited both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. The Senate was even in session. Very few senators were actually present, but Senator Márcio Bittar from the State of Acre was giving a speech.
We almost got stuck on the Senate side of the complex, because an official event was about to begin. The President of Brazil was on his way. Even as we walked over to the Senate, the security guard said, “Last group!” On our way back to the Chamber of Deputies, we tried to sneak through the huge crowd of politicians and journalists, but it was impossible to get out that way. We ended up having to take a back way through tunnels and garages and explaining our plight to every security guard along the way. I would have liked to stick around for the event; I’ll just have to go in an official capacity next time (haha).
After I left the chaos of the Congress behind, I walked to one of the big malls in the center of the city to grab a bite to eat. While I was waiting for my order, someone started speaking to me in Indonesian. It was a member of the Indonesian Embassy staff, whom I had met at an event there. To my amusement, and to the cashier’s confusion, we had a brief conversation in Indonesian. The cashier had already realized that I wasn’t Brazilian when I ordered my food, but I imagined he was even more confused about what kind of foreign I was after that exchange.
Brazil was good to me, and I look forward to using what I learned at UNESCO during my final semester as an IEDP student. Tchau, Brasil! Valeu!