Yesterday the session on international development took place, and finally I was able to talk shop about something I know about. It's not a case of lack of interest or ability to discuss topics in international economics (half of my grad degree) or hard-core government policy. It's just not my job, and international development is. There are participants here from USAID and the UN, as well as NGOs, and we all have different perspectives on ID.
I had about 38 excited questions to ask Prof. Waters but I restrained myself. She had some interesting points about the career prospects for Americans: with funding increasingly directed toward local organizations in-country, the evolution of "partnership" between international and national NGOs, and the whole "capacity building" scenario, she suggested that Americans will become mainly US-based and focus primarily on technical assistance rather than an expat presence. I guess I'm part of that trend now.
The afternoon was taken up with a group dynamics exercise reminiscent of the oral section of the Foreign Service Exam. My group was very collaborative and we ended the exercise with a vote and with very little rancor. I wonder if perhaps it's because the majority of the members were over the age of 30. Plus we weren't fighting for our individual budgets!
The oral, er, group exercise was followed by separate sessions for the male and female participants. A lot of work/life issues came up, and it was great to hear about how people coped with maintaining support systems while overseas or while living action-packed lives in the US. Some folks weren't familiar with Skype and I talked about how my blog helps me keep up with friends wherever they are. Goodbyes are temporary after all, although a number of friends are in the process of departing, most recently leftvegdrunk. Cheers to LVD from RightWingCarnivorousStoneColdSober.