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Spanish Flag in Plaza de Colón, Madrid, Spain

My UNESCO-UniTwin internship has officially ended, and those eight weeks flew.  The CBE gave me the opportunity to truly maximize my one graduate school summer, and it is hard to imagine learning so much in a practical environment in such little time with any other program.  The fellow process works.

Fishing off Lanzarote, Islas de Canarias

Throughout the summer, I felt challenged and busy enough to stay interested, but I also had the chance to take some nice day trips and an awesome vacation at the end.  The European August vacation norm is something we should really consider including in the U.S. work calendar (I know, I know — we’re more “productive” given our measly ten days off).


Practicing ABS negotiations, Maputo, Mozambique

Primarily, I saw one part of a large international project through from start to finish.  I helped plan and build materials for a workshop in Mozambique, attended the workshop, and participated in the debriefing and reflection.  I analyzed a current international issue in a country I love and associated with natural resources in which I have a personal stake.


Obviously not as much of a stake as Mozambicans themselves, but a stake nonetheless.

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I Speak Scuba

It’s true.  And it is actually a language option on Facebook profiles.  For many of the same reasons I like learning other languages, I also like SCUBA diving.

For one, it brings people together.  It is not a graceful sport, and the sea humbles everyone.  It’s quite difficult (not to mention ridiculously unsafe) to dive without at least one buddy, and most dive centers are run by dive “teams”.  In fact, my old boss used to say, “Teamwork is dreamwork.”  She was only half joking.

Secondly, the more time you spend immersed in it (in this case, underwater), the easier it becomes to communicate.  And like mathematics, SCUBA language is pretty much universal.  Though I had a hard time understanding Miguel’s accent in Spanish sometimes, we were easy diving buddies.

Finally, and also like with foreign languages and cultures, there is an endless amount to learn — both about diving, as the sport is fairly new and curious thrill-seekers push the limits daily, and about the underwater world.  The more time you spend with a reef or kelp forest, the more intimate with it you become, and the more you realize how much there is still to learn. Continue reading

Explaining Moz (Everything is Relative)

I am not the most patient person; this is no secret.  However, I would like to think I’ve gotten a little better with time, especially from my teaching experiences both in the Peace Corps and giving SCUBA diving lessons.  Despite these improvements, I still have a ways to go.  And when living in working in foreign countries and cultures, patience (both with yourself and others) is key to successful communication.

I lived and worked in Mozambique for about 32 months in the end.  I buy my purple Moz havaianas from the same guy every time in the same market.  I can stand in front of 400 students and sing the national anthem at 6:45am with the best of them.  And when I see it, I know the petrol station at which every Vilankulo-Maputo bus stops en route (it has Simba sour-cream and onion chips and Cadbury fruit and nut chocolate bars — I never miss this stop).

On the other hand, when my colleague asked me where those train tracks went leaving Maputo city, I responded, “I don’t know, probably nowhere.  But they look new, so maybe somewhere.”  To me, this is a sufficient response.  However, to someone with limited experience in Moz and who is unfamiliar with the U.S. Peace Corps, this was far less than sufficient.  I found myself losing credibility left and right. Continue reading