© 2013 Laura Henson

Being Back

Catching up on TV shows. Looking at Facebook photos. Writing a final blogpost…. These are all the usual activities for the days and weeks after returning from abroad. While every immersive learning program at MIIS includes a unique and personal experience, the readjustment period is fairly standard (in my opinion).

Today was the first day of classes, and the 13 other students with whom I spent the last three weeks went about their personal class schedule just as I did. In Law, four of our project team members sat in four different rows. As professors explained syllabuses (yes, that’s a word) and outlined deliverables, I momentarily forgot about the work left to do for Team El Salvador.

On the surface, it appears we all quickly returned to our usual graduate school routine: my classes, my homework, and my education. On the surface, the MIIS student body appears to have diluted Team El Salvador to a negligible concentration. But on the surface, Team El Salvador appears to be a three-week immersive learning experience with on-the-fly projects and a beach excursion, and the 14 of us know that it is so much more, has so much potential, and is truly distinct from other immersive learning programs.

My personal experience was as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) and a final semester student at MIIS. As a project leader receiving project definition from both Asociación Mangle (Mangle) and the Center for the Blue Economy (CBE), I had the opportunity to combine lessons learned from Peace Corps with technical skills learned at MIIS toward the sustainable development of a truly unique region. I never imagined I would get such concrete validation for the professional decision to go to graduate school.

The short-term deliverables came from Mangle, while the CBE has a long-term plan of mutual interest. Furthermore, the Bajo Lempa regional community social organization is inspiring. If there were ever a recipe for genuine sustainable development, this would be it. And though most my developing-world experiences warn me not to get my hopes up, I have already received follow-up emails from three different contacts in the Bajo Lempa region.

Consider me de-jaded. I really think this could be the beginning of a wonderfully successful relationship.

And despite surface appearance, the Team has stayed strong. From music on Saturday night, to hiking on Sunday, to drinks at Peter B’s tonight, and meetings later this week – I look forward to sharing the rest of my time in graduate school with Team El Salvador 7.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Sites DOT MIISThe Middlebury Institute site network.