30 January, 2011

Meanwhile, back at HQ...

Hunkering down to: Work my way back through all my Arabic textbooks. Gotta keep moving forward somehow!
Marveling at: a country that shuts down at 7pm every night and every Sunday. Consequently missing days of strolling the streets and stopping for kunefa late at night in Cham or Cairo.
Trying to: Knock out the last of my class work and get it the heck out of the way!
Lesson learned (again): Don't shop based on pictures on package. What looks like yogurt may turn out to be some form of cheese. Though quark magro is a cool name. Sounds like something they're working on at CERN.

Work-wise, this week has focused on developing the initial surveys for my project. We'll hopefully soon get surveys out to international UNHCR staff and their families both here at HQ and in the field. The organization defines international staff at those not working in their home countries. While there is an admitted schism(s) between national and international staff here, we had to look at boundaries for this project given the time and resource constraints. That said, I certainly hope a similar assessment will be conducted for the families of national staff in the near future.

Still trying to connect with Staff Welfare officers in the field. Their input and assistance will be important and I am interested to hear what they are encountering with staff.

I've connected with the local organization for expat spouses of UN staff, who are thrilled somebody is taking an interest in their lives and challenges. Likely speaking at their meeting later this week.

Slow going, but this initial phase is about building solid foundations for the rest of the project. I just hope I don't get too stalled, given that I'm only here until June. Most people's response to the project, though positive, has been, "So how many years do you have to get this done?"

One interesting thing last week was joining an informal dinner out with the Staff Welfare folks from several organizations, including WTO, WMO, ITU, and others. Really diverse and interesting group, not to mention fun. I'd no idea this element existed with these organizations. Though critical, they remain small, underfunded posts and could, should, be able to do more.

Again, a very interesting internship from the perspective that I get to see how this place works and doesn't.
Hopefully, I can play a small part in helping it work better. Not only for staff and families, but for the people they're trying to serve under the mandate.

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