Can it be that I am nearly halfway through my internship? What a very busy week this was.
My play came at the end of the week, so this will be chronologically misplaced. However, after a long, intense week of studying and training, I took a bus to Amsterdam to visit some friends.
While I was visiting Malaysia about 5 years ago, I met a Dutch family and their Malay friend. We’ve stayed in touch, here and there, but it turns out that the Malaysian lives in Holland now, not too far from the Dutch family. Anyway, we were able to meet in Amsterdam on Saturday, and I stayed at the family’s home, in Week an Zee, a beautiful little beach village. Travelling is so amazing. It’s been 5 years since I have seen these girls and we didn’t skip a beat. We had a wonderful time exploring the city on foot and on boat through its numerous man made canals. An odd, open and touristy city, it was quite the experience.
Pictured below are the ‘dancing houses’, houses whose wooden stability poles are rotting, as they are exposed to water then air. Because of this, and shifting ground, the houses also shift and can become crooked. Below that is the Amsterdam Royal palace, used for official receptions. Quite a large and impressive building.
However, I loved seeing the smaller town of Week an Zee, which I guess is quite a destination in the summer. On Saturday night we went to her local pub, where her friend bartends, and I got to meet the locals, who all, to my surprise, spoke English and had no problem accommodating me in my native tongue. That might be the biggest surprise on my trip so far- how natural and easy second, even third or fourth languages seem to come to Europeans. My roommate speaks four, quite casually! It’s very impressive, and at times, can make me feel inadequate. On Sunday, the weather wasn’t great, but they had a little flea market in the center of the city and we walked the designated path through the dunes to have lunch at a restaurant owned by her cousin, right on the beach. I can see how this small area would be a summer attraction, as it’s quaint enough to encourage peace and relaxation but has a long, beautiful beach and only a slight sea breeze.
The Netherlands utilize wind power throughout the country. My poor host must have thought my fascination with the wind farm and scattered windmills was odd. But she was accommodating and took me directly to them to see how huge they are and hear the swish of the blades. Very impressive and massive!
Ah, the week I have been looking forward to and dreading simultaneously. The Project Management for Sustainable Development training course. The course is broken into two parts. A foundation course, where you are evaluated on your understanding of the concepts, language and organization of the project management tools. This is three days of intensive cramming. It is followed by (and this is optional) the Practitioners’ course, which tests your ability to apply the concepts in a scenario that is given. These two days are even more intense, and really stretch your mind through activities of concept application. The test itself is 2 ½ hours long and that wasn’t long enough! I definitely found myself stressed for time toward the end.
The course is interesting, as it is based on PRINCE2 management principles- the European equivalent of our PMI project management certification. The difference with this is that it is tailored to sustainable tourism projects. As I was learning the material, however, I see it is just an all-around good management tool that can be applied to any project. This particular training program focuses on the longevity of a project and realizing benefits after the operation and development of a project has occurred. It also introduces the sustainability indicators provided by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and European Tourism Indicator System (ETIS). In fact, we had a representative from ETIS in the course and she says they are revamping the system this year, hopefully rolling out an upgraded system and online portal soon.
Now that I have taken the course and am certified (Yay!) I can truly dig into the main reason for my stay here in Belgium: evaluating the course for capacity building techniques and identifying projects that have applied the techniques to see how effective they are. Research, writing, writing, research, interviewing, research, writing.
Which, thank goodness I can do from home, because all of last week’s intensity has given me a cold. I stayed home today, and am lucky enough to have Salem overseeing my work as I prepare more for my case study. Very helpful, indeed.
It’s the start of yet another busy week!