Below is a post from a Summer 2013 Team Peru member, Krisztina Pjeczka about her overall experience this summer. Krisztina is a fellow from Middlebury College who was an awesome addition to our group of graduate students from the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

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Learning to ´develop´

During these past six weeks my teammates and I have been faced with a whole range of challenges as much in our work as in our personal lives; and our ways of tackling them have come to greatly define our experience here. When we decided to work for the Andean Alliance this summer we signed up for a two-month long position in a developing country, where our lifestyle and working environment are both a lot different from what we got used to in the States. While this can manifest in some more itchiness, light-headedness or other physical conditions from time to time, I think it is also quite a useful learning experience that shakes us into being more in real terms with our environment. Living with your colleagues is yet another learning curve, an opportunity for a great deal of reflection.

To mention an example, I, personally, have come to like the fact that I’m using so much less technology for my work. My laptop crashed during the third week into our program and from then on I gradually grew further away from computers, the internet and just technology in general. Writing my end-of-the-day reflections by hand was first tiring, but by now I really appreciate the intimacy of it, a connection to my words which is lost in Microsoft Word. Researching relevant information for our project without a constant and fast internet access also seemed more troublesome first, but soon I realized it was another unfounded worry. All the information we need is around us, guarded but not hidden by the people! All we need to do is seek it out! Now that we are about to compile our master document with all the material we gathered this summer this is more than apparent: interviews, discussions and spontaneous conversations fill up the entirety of our knowledge base. And if I would really need a ‘global connection’, I have found a reliable, friendly and cheap internet place in town.

Another huge take-away for me comes from our living situation. In any given team setting you are bound to encounter personality differences, which can come to surface in a variety of situations. This is when clear and effective communication becomes so essential, and you have an opportunity to improve at it! It’s easy to make yourself understood when you are surrounded with your best friends, or when you’re sure that you share some transformative experiences with the people around you (like having gone to a United World College as in the case of most of my close friends at Middlebury College). Getting your point across becomes a challenge when you have different perspectives about life and different ways of expressing yourselves. This is where learning begins! With careful practice, sensitivity and a good team feedback system I feel we have all honed these vital skills of ours here. We came to help develop but also to learn how to develop ourselves. ~Krisztina

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