Summary of Experience
In January 2017, I participated in the first Design, Partnering, Management and Innovation (DPMI) program held in Medellín, Colombia. This opportunity facilitated significant learning in the following three areas: 1) learning the DPMI course content in the workshop, 2) applying the content in a two-week internship, and 3) gaining exposure to international development in the Colombian context.
DPMI course content:
This course provided a unique opportunity to learn the foundations of project design, partnership, and management in an international development context and with international practitioners. A diverse group of more than 30 students and practitioners participated in the workshop, which included 7 MIIS students (from the US and Germany), several Europeans, and more than 20 Colombians. The workshop was conducted entirely in the Spanish language. The workshop consisted of significant group work and design thinking. For me, the group work added essential real-life perspectives to the academic course material.
I was placed in a two-week, 40-hour internship with a branch of the local government– la Secretaria de Educación de Medellín (the Secretary of Education of Medellín). Their Buen Comienzo (“Good Start”) program sought to conduct an evaluation of its programs and requested input about the design and implementation of an “impact” evaluation. During my internship, I worked closely with the Evaluation manager, Program managers, and Buen Comienzo director to a) better understand the Buen Comienzo model, b) apply relevant DPMI course content and c) create a relevant, useful tool for the client. In the end, I collaborated with the Evaluation manager to create a presentation that summarizes key prerequisites to an evaluation, such as a problem tree as to why an evaluation had not yet been conducted, stakeholder analysis of those invested in a program evaluation, and basic information about other key dimensions of an evaluation (i.e., theory of change, mixed methods data, and sample size).
Aside from the professional components to this experience, I also personally grew through my exposure to Colombia, its particular development challenges/opportunities, and Medellín’s unique “paisa” culture. For example, my group members and host family often discussed themes of Colombians displaced from FARC-related violence, the rapid growth of informal settlements within the city limits, and how the city’s violent past has fostered a unique propensity to resolve its own issues, which has led to its reputation as a leader in social innovation.
Katie visits a Buen Comienzo school in Medellín during her internship with the Secretary of Education of Medellín.