Settling In| June 2, 2011
We now have an apartment!!! It is almost too wonderful. Clean, large, beds for everyone, cable television, a balcony that is possibly larger than the entire apartment, magnetic security key to enter, and a couch! I think it might be better than my apartment in Williamsburg. In fact, I'm almost positive that it is. We even threw our first dinner party last night. There are five of us interns working at CEDHA right now. Four from the states (Anna, from American University started work yesterday) and the other from France (Laura). Fortunately, Laura doesn't speak any English, so we have to speak Spanish whenever we're hanging out. Which is really great since we're all trying to improve! We spent dinner helping each other make sentences and clarifying words. (spices and species = especias y especies, and that one letter difference can cause a whole lot of confusion). So far my Spanish is at least improving. I might say that I have contextually conversational Spanish. But if someone were to stop be on the street and say one sentence, its' doubtful I'd understand. One week at a time.
Work at CEDHA is going incredibly well. It's sometimes frustrating to be sitting in a meeting and not really be able to participate because of the language barrier, but that too will get better as my Spanish approves. Certain relevant vocabulary works are becoming more familiar (la red=network, directrices=guidelines, desarrollo=development). My team is incredible patient and helpful with me and once we get into the swing of our assignments I think it will be smooth sailing. After a team meeting yesterday I now have a bit more clarity as to what my assignments will be, and I'm really excited about all of them!
One of the projects will be researching human rights related information in two Latin American countries and then uploading this information on to BASESwiki. BASESwiki is a user generated resource for individuals/organizations/parties that have human rights conflicts/complaints against businesses. It gives information about the resolution mechanisms available in each country. I'll be looking up information about what type of standard, guidelines, treaties, etc that the country has signed on to, what time of system they have in place to redress grievances, and other human rights information specific to that country. Similarly, my second project is to look up a list of corporations (Multinational Enterprises=MNEs) and create a profile for their views on human rights. This way, if an MNE is violating a person's human rights, an individual or organization could look up what type of promises the company has made, or what standards they must follow.
I'm not sure if these explanations do justice to the projets that I am working on, or justice to how excited I am to be working on them. At the end of the day both of these projects are about making information accessible. The phrase might be over used and it's definitely corny, but knowledge is power. In many instances, businesses continue to take advantage of the communities in which they operate because the people in those communities don't have access to the information that can help them. The BASESwiki, and the projects I'll be working on address this need. Like always, once the research gets started, the end product will become more clear.
Hopefully I'll get Michelle to remind me how to upload picutres soon so that I can add some color to this blog! This weekend is Earth Day and we think our office is planning some type of thing for all of us. Without making any promises, look forward to some photos from that and Michelle and my adventure to Carlos Paz last weekend!