Hi everyone!

It’s been a while since the last post. At the end of last year, I decided to stick with my plan to move to Philly for the spring semester even though classes are still virtual, so…I am writing this post from my new studio apartment, located less than a mile from the Penn campus!

So far, I love Philly, even though it is much colder than Houston (as expected) and I have not seen the sun in a while. In the three weeks I have been here, I have been able to meet with fellow IEDP students and go on long walks with them, which is very exciting and crazy to think about after an entire semester of Zoom meetings. I have also had the chance to walk around campus, which is very beautiful. Moving in the middle of the pandemic was stressful, but thanks to supportive friends I have managed to buy all the essentials and set up my new study space.

The Spring 2021 semester started last week and Penn students, including me, are really busy trying to finalize their class schedules. During add/drop period, students get to “shop” courses before officially registering for them to see if the topics and assignments align with their academic and professional goals. The great thing about being in the IEDP is that you have three free electives, which you can take from many different colleges at Penn including the school of Social Policy & Practice, the Law School, or from a different program in the Graduate School of Education. Having so many great options to choose from also means that you have to spend many hours (or days) thinking about what your interests are in order to make a wise decision.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I took three classes in the fall semester. The first two were core courses that everyone is required to take: Education in Developing Countries (EDUC 514) and International Educational Development In Practice: Tools, Tech And Ethics (EDUC 695). The third course was Principles of Monitoring and Evaluation (EDUC 638), which is a popular option for the quantitative methods course that IEDP students have to take. Before coming to Penn, I was sure that I want to pursue a career where I can do data analysis and evaluate the effectiveness of education programs. This interest has not changed, so this semester I have decided to take Advanced Monitoring & Evaluation (a continuation of EDUC 638) and also Economics of Education in Developing Countries, both taught by Dr. Thapa. All IEDP students are also required to take a course called Masters Proseminar in International Educational Development. Most students refer to this course as prosem, while I have been incorrectly calling it “the policy brief class” since that is the big assignment due at the end of the semester. For my fourth class, I have decided to take International Early Childhood Policies and Programs, which I think will be super valuable in my desire to learn how to provide children with a strong base for primary and secondary school.

I have also been trying to figure where I want to do my internship. Because I am hoping for an in-person internship, I have decided to take the summer off, finish all my coursework in December (so I have one more semester after this one) and do the internship in Spring 2022. At the moment, nobody can guarantee that it will be safe to travel internationally and move to another country, but I am still hopeful. Being Peruvian, I have a strong interest in the Latin American region and in different topics: girls’ education, access to education in rural areas, and indigenous peoples’ right to education. On the other hand, it would be really interesting to be able to move to a different region where I have not lived before. During the last few days, I have had a lot of conversations with classmates, alumni, and professors to figure out what kind of internship would be ideal for me. Therefore, I am still in the difficult process of completing the internship form where we get to discuss our preferences for organizations, regions, and countries.

Finally, I have also spent some time doing different activities related to my job as a Graduate Assistant (GA). Aside from the blog, every week I work with Lena on compiling a list of academic and cultural events for our classmates to consider attending. I also work with Amy and Ashwini on the newsletter that is sent to current students and alumni every month. Lastly, I have also had the opportunity to chat with people from around the world interested in the IEDP (some just exploring the program, some in the process of applying, and others deciding on their acceptance). It has been incredible to share my experience with others and be a resource for them just like other IEDPers have been for me when I was applying to the program and now that I am deciding on courses and the internship.

It will definitely be a super busy semester, which makes me nervous, but I am also very excited to learn new things through my assignments, reading groups, and class discussions.  I hope to be able to provide more updates on this semester in the next few weeks.  Thank you for reading.