Oh man, I have not written anything in a very long time. I know I have things come up in my life: moved to a new place, meeting new people, having a new job. But really it shouldn’t be any excuse. Six months ago I was saying goodbye to everyone in Sotouboua. Today I’m hanging out in my room in this town house’s basement, about to go out in a couple hours to watch the Super Bowl. I went out earlier this morning and it was snowing, but the overall weather is too warm for it to stick around.
When I arrived back to America, I chilled out in Florida for a solid two months. Then I moved up to DC right after Christmas where I have a new place and a job. I’m working on a USAID project with a development organization. Now I get to experience what development work is like from the perspective of being in a cubicle in a developed nation (it involves a lot more Excel spreadsheets). It’s a little different than what I’m used to.
What I’m working on is called the Leadership, Management & Governance project. The thing I like most about being a part of it is that their main objective is to help improve health systems by building the system’s capacity in leadership, management and …. guess what it could be … governance! This means teaching better managing and governing practices to the people that run these organizations. I don’t think I could be part of something that just went into different countries handing out mosquito nets or free condoms. That really doesn’t do anything other than teach people that if you hang around and do nothing long enough, someone else will show up to clean up your mess.
One job I applied for and heard back from was somewhat like that. It seemed really awesome because I working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the deputy director level. Their main goal was to promote family planning methods. I just wasn’t sure how much of that involved giving handouts. So I ended up turning it down for something that I felt might have a greater impact over the long run. But then again I’m working for a USAID project, so there is so much bureaucracy, and results come in the form of a deliverable report that shows numbers. It shows how many participants attended a training session, so now these participants should have this knowledge to go back and change their organization for the better, but will they? It is hard or sometimes impossible to see what really happens from these reporting methods. But as long at the numbers show up, the project ‘officially’ made an impact.
It is weird too, because I don’t see or know the people in which I’m affecting. This is a big disconnect that I’m learning to deal with. But that is just part of stepping back and taking my place in the bigger picture.
I do like DC, although I miss the days past of $4 pitchers. I still feel uncomfortable when ordering a $12 pitcher and having that be a “good deal”. Also, how can this be the capital of the United States of America, yet not a single restaurant understands how give a split check (lack of innovation, even Denny’s has you beat on that one)? Other than that, I love walking through the city. So many cool museums and monuments to make sure I’m never bored. The night life is pretty cool too. There are a few good hole-in-the-wall bars for me to kick it with friends and a bunch of dance halls can be found in the basements of U Street. Let’s see how long I stay here!