So, I know this is late. Instead of writing on my flight back (check out previous blog) I fell asleep. Then a week later I had another long flight but got distracted by some political unrest. So much has happened in Santiago and at work during my last month of internship!
Field Trip #1: Paris, France
I wrote my last blog on a very long flight to my first internship international field trip to UNESCO Headquarters in Paris! It was for a meeting between the Education and Culture sectors of UNESCO to present projects and initiatives from around the world in efforts to safeguard intangible culture. “Intangible culture” includes oral traditions, technical skills like crafts, music, cooking, textiles…basically anything that is part of a cultural tradition that cannot be handled or put in a box. (Crafts can but how they are made can’t, etc.).
My office is coordinating a project along with the Regional Office for Culture (in Havana, Cuba) that includes a survey of educational practices that incorporate cultural heritage in a selection of countries in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region. This topic, Cultural Heritage in Education, is a favorite of mine. As an intern on that team, I am present at all meetings and handle drafting and editing documents, translating things, fact checking and a mini literature review, tech support for our open online survey, and whatever else is necessary for the project to run smoothly.
Overall it was a surreal experience! I got to meet some important people within this world of intangible culture and talk to project managers and assistants from around the world about their office’s projects and initiatives. Other regions have projects that are also focused on teachers and educators working with cultural heritage and it was great being able to hear the exchange of ideas and best practices. Also, Paris is beautiful as is UNESCO Headquarters so I can’t complain much about the long flights!
I ended up attending thanks to persistence, luck, and supportive supervisors. When this meeting came up, I started digging for grants and my supervisor moved little mountains to get me an invite. Since UNESCO interns don’t go on missions, I was the only one present and my supervisor made sure I was involved in the small group discussions and activities and had me present at the end of the meeting on our office’s planned initiatives. I also had a mini reunion with my first supervisor (she now works at HQ) and Namreen, a fellow IEDP that let me crash to save up some $$$ (THANK YOU).
Field Trip #2- Havana, Cuba
Keeping in line with this project, I was also given the opportunity to attend a workshop hosted by the Regional Office for Culture in Havana! As stated above, this project is surveying educational practices that incorporate cultural heritage and one of the outputs will be an Educator’s Guide for the Region. This workshop was planned to bring together the project consultants and other specialists to review their findings, present preliminary reports and findings, and lay the groundwork for the making of the guide. Being that Americans have some barriers to obtaining a visa to Cuba, and that I have had about 9 continuous months of cold or rain, it also gave me a rare opportunity to visit the island and finally get some sun.
There was a week between our Paris trip and the Havana workshop, which kept me and my supervisor busy. Santiago was also busy as student protests over rising metro fares were gaining steam. On the Friday before our trip, the protests culminated into full riots and public gatherings. The metro was shut down and people were forced to walk home or wait out the activities at friends’ homes. I had a flight 3am Saturday morning and ran to the airport as soon as I realized it was being covered by international news outlets. Right before boarding, the president declared a state of emergency, which threw the whole city into more chaos. My supervisor and our project consultant weren’t able to make it out in time for the workshop so I was left to represent the team.
In the end, I gave 3 presentations and led a working group, while also participating in discussions that would define the guide that my supervisor had worked so hard to make a reality. It was a lot of pressure, but I think I did well. The sun helped, as did the general laid back attitude that everyone adopts when they are in Cuba. I had a couple days to explore Havana and get sunburned; it was a quick and busy trip but amazing!
The Beginning of the End.
After Havana, there were about 4 weeks of my internship left. Most of the work focused on closing this project and the various side projects that came with it, along with preparing for the closing reports for the year and submitting plans and reports for the next biennium. At this point, my supervisor and I had fallen into a great rhythm and it was hard coming to terms with my departure from the office. What was supposed to be a quick ‘exit interview’ the second to last week turned into a 2 hour long meeting about internships and professional goal setting that was so insightful! My thoughts, concerns, and ideas were well received, and I got some great advice from someone who saw me at my complete and utter worst (month 1 and 2, eeesh) and my best (Paris/Havana). I had to consciously start weening myself off of projects and tasks, slowly backing away from things I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish in less than a month. The last month flew by!
After my internship I am headed on a #IEDPatagonia adventure! I have a week to go trekking, see some penguins, pet some street dogs, and be a backpacking tourist again! Now excuse me, I gotta measure my pack to ensure that a penguin fits…for, um, science.