Coursework or Realwork?

So, I’ve mentioned earlier that my coursework and my internship are pretty closely related… this week, I am planning on merging the two even more! See, I am in a small group in my Development Management class that has to turn in a 50-70 page Request for Proposal by the end of the semester. Essentially, we need to come up with a detailed plan on how to best go about the implementation of an education system in three areas located between North and South Sudan. It sounds easy at first, but there are faaar more things to think about than I ever could imagine…

First, it is important to consider the current political make-up of Sudan as well as the fact that they are scheduled to complete a referendum in 2011 to determine whether or not the country will divide in two. Second, it is also necessary to consider the geographical make-up and the fact that roads are scarce, the rainy season interrupts travel and cultures/languages vary. Furthermore, the overall logistics of the program need to be considered as well – who do you hire (local staff or expatriates)? where do you set up a headquarters (in the capital or closer to the problem areas)? how do you get around (fly, drive or both)? etc….

While I currently do not work with the Sudan at my internship, I do work with individuals who are in charge of implementing similar programs in similar countries. One of my co-workers, for example, has just returned from Liberia where she was helping to run a seminar for local individuals. While both the political and geographical make-up of Liberia and Sudan are different, the logistics of program implementation are not. This is exactly where I plan to use my internship to help me with my project, and vice versa.

Next week, I plan to sit down with my co-worker in order to pick her brain about the possible logistical problems that inevitably exist. From my work and classes so far, it has become common knowledge that anything planned out beforehand will ultimately be thrown out due certain unpredictable conditions on the ground! She will have the real-world knowledge that will be so vital in our project proposal. To a certain extent, it almost feels like cheating, but I keep having to remind myself that this is exactly what I want to study, this is exactly where I want to work and this is why I am at American.