Whenever I travel, as I’m sure is the case with most travelers, I use the time away from the routine of “normal” life to do a bit of reflection.  This time around in the Sacred Valley of Peru was even more so a time of reflection.  You see, for me this time in Peru was the realization of a dream that not so long ago, I was ready to give up on.

For as long as I can remember, my professional goal was to do “something international”, which I gradually narrowed down to “helping people” internationally, which I eventually specified as “international development”.  (Which, I know, is still not super specific.  But bear with me.)  I carried this dream with me probably from the end of high school/beginning of college on, but by the time I reached college graduation last year, I was ready to give up on it.  Among other reasons, I didn’t think my dream was realistic.  I didn’t see how I could do what I wanted to do and still have it be, to throw out our favorite buzz word at MIIS, sustainable for myself in the long run.  So, pursuing a graduate degree in the field of international development was me taking one last chance on this dream—in a way that I felt was more realistic and sustainable, both for myself and the individuals I would be working alongside should the goal pan out.

I came to Peru after one semester at MIIS, and while I definitely felt that I had made the right decision in pursuing my goal of working in international development, this time in Peru reaffirmed my initial sentiments.  There is a smart approach to development, both for oneself and for the people affected by one’s career in development.  I suppose what I’m getting at is that, even though I said at the beginning of this post that travel can be a time to get away from “normal” life, this trip only reminded me that my new idea of “normal”—my reality—is pretty awesome. ~Nadine Custis

When it comes to being tech-savvy, I’d place myself at the “not tech-savvy” end of the spectrum.  So, managing a website was the last thing I expected to be doing when I came down to Peru.  In speaking to member organizations in the NGO Network over the summer, we consistently found that people wanted a better means of communication.  Furthermore, people thought that the best way to do this was to create (or expand on) an online platform.  The previous Team Peru group had already created a Ning site to connect network members; our group decided to get to work amping up this site to catalyze communication and information sharing among network members.

The rough version of the NGO Network website.

I spent a good part of this week giving the site a makeover, if you will, familiarizing myself with the different features, drafting profile questions for new members, and doing general administrative tasks. So when I say that I’m “managing” a website, it’s not like I’ll return to the U.S. an html expert.  But it’s a step in that direction!  I’m really excited to be behind the scenes on this one and to see how it all comes together (¡ojalá!) to accomplish the goals we’ve set for the NGO Network. ~Nadine Custis