Significant advancements in telecommunications and internet access have, in the words of Thomas Friedman, flattened the world. Without these luxuries, I would not have been able to secure an internship 8,000 miles away from home. However, proponents of globalization too easily gloss over the disadvantages of not communicating face to face. They may argue that these disadvantages occur because we have not mastered how to communicate effectively over long distances. The reason for this digression is to explain that before meeting with my supervisors yesterday, I did not have a great idea of what kind of work I would be doing. The internship coordinator had given me a list of possible tasks I could complete on the job, but it was not until yesterday that I understood my official summer assignment. Luckily, I cannot think of a more perfect internship for myself this summer.
For those of you that do not know, BRAC is one of the largest development NGOs in the world. What makes it such a remarkable organization, in my opinion, is that it is 73% self-funded. Only 27% of its expenditures last year used donor money. Its ability to finance itself is partially due to investments it makes in organizations which it owns or partially owns and the success of its Microfinance and Social Enterprise programs. This summer, I will be working with BRAC's Social Enterprises via the Communications Department. Because BRAC has very limited documentation on the progression of its 18 Social Enterprises, my chief duty is to work with the other Social Enterprises intern and trace each enterprise from its commencement to where it is today. I will document the inspiration behind each of the enterprises, what social problems it aimed to address, and how well it embodies its original mission today. With this information, BRAC would eventually like to create brochures for each organization. Hopefully I will be here long enough help publish these brochures.
The first four hours of my job were so exciting; I spent all morning reading about empowered, impoverished people who have pulled themselves out of poverty, enrolled their children in school, and can put food on the table. I read about so many people, particularly women, getting loans from BRAC and successfully starting their own small businesses. There is almost nothing in the world I would rather read than entrepreneurs' success stories (much more inspiring than Orwell's 1984, which I finished reading this morning). Then, after lunch time, the jet lag kicked in. An accidental nap from 1 pm to 7 pm on Sunday afternoon, interrupted by room service spraying for bugs, did not exactly help my circadian adjustment. By 4:30, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to make it.
Besides the jet lag, the hardest part about the job is that I am the only intern in the office right now. Orientation is on Sunday, and I am so excited to meet the other 15 interns. It is nice to get a head start on the reading and meet some people around the office. Fun fact: my supervisor actually went to college in Minnesota! Next week, things will definitely become more dynamic when I can meet kids (can I still say that?) my age and hear about their passions, aspirations, and how they ended up at BRAC.