The jubilance I had when I first started my internship at OECD remains, 3 weeks in. Perhaps I’m still in the “honeymoon” stage of culture shock, but I’m not complaining. Perhaps it’s my way of coping with the terrible news and the sadness I feel for the US (Orlando, gun control, Islamophobia, homophobia, politics, people’s own lack of self-awareness and unwillingness to really talk and see one another, etc., etc.). But sometimes I think the best strategy is just to keep going and to bring love and enthusiasm into whatever I do. I feel exhausted in trying to be hopeful about the direction of my country and the state of the world. Perhaps being relentlessly positive, finding the good in others, and building up my skills so I can contribute something to make the world better can be my own act of subversion and protest. So, I continue.
So far, I have spent a lot of time editing papers and chapters of a soon-to-be-published volume. I also spent one day reading the team’s published case studies on education policy reforms in Norway, the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, and Sweden (250 pages!). Incidentally, right after this, I got the assignment to create one-page, colorful summaries of each of the case studies. Can you say, good timing? 🙂
Fortunately, this has been a great way for me to dive into the research right away, make tangible contributions to the team, acquaint myself with the required intellectual framework, and most importantly, come to terms with British English’s lack of the Oxford Comma. The OECD Style Guide was my best friend during my first week.
In addition, I wrote the first in a series (well, I hope…) of blog posts summarizing the team’s research. My first post is on the value of strategic risk-taking in education governance. I’ll post the link if it gets approved. This reminds me: there’s a very formal process for getting text approved in OECD. It goes all the way “up the chain,” so my boss’s boss and my boss’s boss’s boss (confused yet?) will look at my work. Europe-based organizations definitely like their hierarchies. Perhaps it’s the same in the US, and I’m just not used to it. But since my project team’s work is on governance, I’ve been thinking a lot more about power dynamics, trust, and communication between different levels of governance systems! Maybe a future topic to explore…
My current project is to attempt rewrites on a chapter in the upcoming volume about trust. While most people have an intuitive idea of what “trust” entails, it is extremely difficult to talk about it in relation to governance in a logical, concise way! Let’s see what I can do…
I’ve also had the opportunity to attend three events hosted by the OECD at La Muette, the OECD’s main building. The first was an informal seminar on trust, featuring new research by the Public Governance directorate at OECD on subjects such possible management models that use trust, trust and budgeting, integrity, and satisfaction in public services. One question that was particularly fascinating to me was posed by an external organizational dynamics academic, who stated, “The working assumption seems to be that trust is an inherently positive thing. To what extent might distrust be healthy?” Definitely something to think about – especially as I try my hand out at writing!
The second was a conference,”From inclusion and equity in education to social and economic prosperity.” I got to sit in on panel discussions and smaller sessions that brought up everything from the Education for All goals (thanks, Dr. Neuman!) to educational opportunities for migrants to teacher professional development. I even got to attend a fancy cocktail (#champagne #sushi) in the Chateau, a beautiful mansion at OECD HQ. I learned a lot, and I realized how much could be explored using OECD’s wide range of education data.
The final event was courtesy of our Directorate. They needed volunteers to watch the opening speech at an Anti-Corruption conference…the speaker was none other than French President François Hollande! Of course, I signed up. In his speech, he touched on the connections between fighting corruption and fighting terrorism. Even though he gave the speech in French, my chair came with a special headphone set – so I could hear a simultaneous English translation (you could choose from 7 different languages!).
The next few weeks include opportunities to attend 2-hour lectures on topics like geopolitics and the world order (! :D), masterclasses on negotiation, and even French class (!). Excited to explore these possibilities.
What I love, aside from the intellectual rigor, is the opportunity to socialize! My supervisor is particularly awesome, because she helps organize (and encourages other team members to organize) informal team outings. Last week, we grabbed some beers together after work at a Basque bar and watched part of the Euro Cup. I got to know some of my co-workers so much better. There are also Friday Coffee Mornings (it’s a misnomer; there’s no coffee – but there are snacks), a summer party hosted by ALORA (the OECD-wide social org), farewell parties for staff, etc. Everyone I’ve met so far is so inclusive and friendly! People enjoy getting lunch or going to coffee breaks together, and some of us have already discussed trying to organize something informal for all the interns + consultants in our building…
Inside #OECDDelta, where I work