I have never been to Washington, DC. So, as my plane took off from the west coast and began its journey across the US a couple of hours ago, a sense of excitement took hold. I am really looking forward to touching down in DC, the location of so many important political decisions that affect even me, a Canadian. Granted, I have spent some time in the US, and even took off from the Seattle airport having just spent Memorial Day weekend at a music festival in George, Washington. Somehow, DC seems different.
I am equally excited to meet the other Peace Fellows that will be receiving training through the Advocacy Project this week. We are a group of about 40 students being sent around the world to aid with capacity building within grassroots organizations working for social change.
I am heading to New Delhi, India with another AP Fellow, Ted Mathys, where we will be working with Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group on issues of environmental injustice within the informal waste-sector. I am nervous about spending time in India and working with a grassroots NGO. In fact, I have completely shied away from international work until now.
Throughout my life as a student, I have focused my work on local issues and have always found many cultural and sustainability challenges to work through in my own back yard. For instance, in working with cattle ranchers on sustainable farming policies for the Canadian prairies, I encountered many communication and trust barriers as an urban vegetarian environmental activist. However, I have found facing these barriers incredibly rewarding and have ultimately made many wonderful friendships while working through cultural differences at a local level.
Yet, upon finishing my undergraduate degree and entering law school, international work has landed in my lap. Increasingly I am asked to work on international environmental law projects and to present my viewpoints on the impacts of this law on sustainable development around the world. Having never worked in a ‘developing’ country I feel uncomfortable adding my perspective into the international environmental law dialogue. Thus, I have signed on to intern in India, and look forward to learning form the people at Chintan and the other AP fellows about how treaty law plays out in practice in New Delhi.
For now, my departure date to India is a few weeks away and as a result I still have time to reflect on where I will be going and what kind of changes this experience will bring to my life. As my plane begins its descent into Reagan International Airport I let the Fleet Foxes lull me to sleep and put both my excitement and apprehensions around what is to come in the back of my mind.
Posted By Jackie K. (India)
Posted May 10th, 2009