Ever since I joined the International Development Program at Waterloo and found out what it’s all about, there’s been only one question on everyone’s mind.
WHERE ARE YOU GOING?
Hilarious to think that only 7 months before we potentially depart do I finally have a closer idea of that answer. UNITERRA released the positions for us to apply to a few weeks ago and more than ever I’m excited. And nervous. Applications are due in just three days.
There are some amazing initiatives that all of us are vying to be a part of and I’m more than grateful to know the type of work I could potentially be involved in. But I still can’t shake this feeling of dread.
When I first applied to INDEV and knew the kind of program it is, I expected that our field placements would be the pinnacle of our academic careers. The true blend of experience and education. I expect it to be difficult and challenging. I expect it to be eye opening and life-altering.
And I expect that I’m expecting too much.
Over the last three years, I’ve been challenged in INDEV to reimagine all my preconceived notions of supporting development in other countries. Year after year the story remains the same: Don’t go expecting to be able to change anything.
Sure that’s a little discouraging but there’s another part to that. Instead, expect nothing.
Expect nothing so that we can create an opportunity for change. I can’t go there thinking that I know exactly what’s going to happen or how I’m going to fit in. I need to go there with the mindset that, to be honest, I’m there to learn more than I am to teach or help.
And I find that’s true with a lot of “overseas trips” or volunteer experiences; that I am going really to help myself more than them, whether I know it or not on a deeper level. It’s humbling to understand that. A kind of mentality that is necessary when it comes to being a part of fruitful development work.
Now it’s changed my perspective on the types of jobs I’m applying to. At first, I had a very specific field of interest, sustainable development, that I wanted to work in. I was planning on applying to any job that was affiliated with the concept. I wanted to get more integrated with that field and make connections.
But now, I think it’s an even greater opportunity to apply to positions where I think I’m most strong suited for in terms of the work type. I want to be able to do a good job, to do best by the organization and people who are hiring us. It doesn’t matter any more what field I go into because development works everywhere and through all sorts of methods. I want to gain the knowledge that I wouldn’t be able to get if I closed my mind off to only one field of interest.
So I’m applying to communications and marketing jobs that have more to do with design but range from work with farming cooperatives to craft producers or youth. I want to go and do my best and learn about a field that I would have never pictured myself in.
A girl from a previous cohort told us today, “You have to be prepared to go wherever they need you”.
So, where am I going?
I don’t know. And it doesn’t matter.
What’s your ideal development work? Have any strong talents you’d like to use for development work? Leave a comment below!