Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Día 286: "Don't harness everything."

The energy of an office is tangible as soon as one walks in. I was excited to be at The Nature Conservancy the second I set foot in the reception.

I often wonder how environmentalists are able to stay connected with their passion for the planet despite staring at documents all day, everyday. My boss, Jose Yunis, answered this question for me. What I thought was just going to be a brief introduction to the office and my internship turned into an hour-long description of the environmental make-up of Colombia. This explanation was one of the most beautiful, poetic, and impassioned I have ever heard.

I had no idea I was living in the midst of such a unique ecosystem! Jose's introduction will breathe life into every step I take in this city.

The main work our office is doing right now relates to the hydrological mapping of the Magdalena watershed, an unbelievably intricate pastiche of interrelated ecosystems.

To be able to go forward with the mapping (which will be used to determine environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable locations for dams and other infrastructure), TNC is applying for a number of grants from organizations around the world. These proposals must be in English. Here's where I come in.

I spent the morning catching up on a proposal being submitted to a German firm, cleaning up the English idiom here and there while educating myself on the proposed project. After getting to know my team in this capacity, I went out to lunch at the beautiful Andino Mall with Rosario (the team leader), Kate (a fellow intern attending law school in Colorado), Mauricio (the head of fundraising here), and Diana (a recent Masters grad who just started working here yesterday). What cool colleagues, and what a chévere mall!

After eating and chatting, it was time to dive into the work for real. We headed to the conference room and wrestled with the structure and wording of the proposal quite a bit, essentially transforming the setup of one major section of the document  (outputs of the project). It was a proud moment for me when I had so many suggestions (and so much spelling ability) that the team asked me to be in charging of typing as we discussed and reworked the proposal.

It feels so great to edit writing when one's corrections make a big difference because they're essentially doing the work of a translation. On my first day, I already feel like I'm contributing to the NGO's work conceptually and grammatically, learning about the environment, and practicing Spanish all the while!

I was elated after my day at work, and started my post about the same while waiting for my adventure of the evening to begin.

North hemisphere or south, all I do is "socialize." Tonight, I met up with my friends from the plane! Andino Mall seems to be the place to go, so Monica, Anna,  Daniel, and I sauntered back there for a snack at . . . you guessed it -- Crepes & Waffles. I refuse to be brave and try something new when I've already located heaven, and it's on every block of Bogotá.

I made a phone call while we stood in line, and Monica made my day by complimenting my Spanish profusely -- I think my Hindi-influenced accent fools some people into thinking I actually know the language. :)

After my nutella crepe with vainilla ice cream, I wanted to wander the centro commercial. The four of us meandered about, and I even got a new notebook from the Colombian (and therefore far superior) version of Vera Bradley, called Hojas.

I currently sit in a cab on my way home, hoping to squeeze in some meditation before dinner.

Nature-loving colleagues and helado-loving friends -- oh what a day!

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