Well I can sum up week 2 for you in a few words: More reading. My immediate supervisor was still out of the office so I read more materials and familiarized myself with projects the UNFAO has been doing the past year. Even with all the reading, it’s just a fraction of what FAO is a part of. One could get lost reading forever. I know we’re moving slow, but we are going to get somewhere.
Week 3: My supervisor is in the office! I’m actually a little nervous to meet her (because she hasn’t been here) but more excited. We have a meeting immediately and discuss a plan of action for the next few months. She also makes a few phone calls and sets up some meetings with important people who are a part of the school feeding program. I’m so relieved to finally start making progress and thankful that she started working on those connections right away.
This week is actually a little slow, as well, as this is kind of my real first week of the internship. I did have an introduction meeting with someone from Qali Warma, which a program from MIDIS (Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion) “that provides food service to complement education for children enrolled in public educational institutions at primary and secondary levels, and indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Amazon, in order to help improve attention in classes, school attendance and eating habits, promoting the participation and responsibility of the local community.” This is who I’ll be working with on projects of school gardens (huertos escolares) and food waste (despidicios de alimentatión).
I am reading more relevant material now about social inclusion and child nutrition throughout Peru, as well as working on a schedule during the week. Thursday and Friday, I had the pleasure of going to a conference about Qali Warma (QW) titled Taller Nacional de Análisis y Valoración de las Metas de Política para la Sostenibilidad de la Alimentacion Escolar en el Perú (National Workshop on Analysis and Assessment of Policy Goals for the Sustainability of School Feeding in Peru). All the big players were here, the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of the Environment, MIDIS, QW, and more. I have to say, working in another language is not easy. I am proud of myself for engaging with the other participants and for contributing to the table discussions.
There were lots of table discussions throughout both days. I really am grateful for this opportunity because it pushed me out of my comfort zone. It was unlike the other lecture I attended. There was an activity the second day where everyone had to write down a suggestion to improve the system, implementation, design, policy, etc. Only having read about the program and not seeing it in action, I think it’s a little difficult to make an honest suggestion. My first suggestion was immediately taken off the wall as the facilitator of the conference said it was an opinion. However, my second suggestion made it all the way to the end as a key strategy to improve performance. I was very proud of this small victory. My suggestion: more involvement from school officials in the purchasing of nutritional foods. The others in the group tweaked it a bit to include more communication and involvement. Are you noticing a theme here? More communication. More involvement. More teamwork.
We have more meetings planned for next week with folks involved in food waste, school gardens, food security, and nutrition. All of these themes are aspects of my research and project with FAO and under the umbrella of QW. We also have the date of my first school visit: July 7. I can hardly wait to meet the niños and niñas and help them with a garden!
We have a 3 day weekend so I’m exploring the city again. More city pics to come.