Sunday, May 30, 2010

1,001 cups of tea: or, meet the AIHRC

Arranging an internship through personal channels has its benefits and its drawbacks - though one of the Commissioners extended his welcome for me to spend the summer with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission in early March, relevant details never quite made it to the human resources staff. As a result, I arrived yesterday morning with no appointment, the name of a woman I'd gleaned from a single, near-accidental email, and absolutely no idea what the day might hold.

I'd caught her by surprise, too - my "I've arrived in the country; when can I start work?" message having arrived on her day off. I'd introduced myself to the guard as Kathryn, which only furthered confusion as somehow HR had me scrawled on a dry-erase board as Katy (complete with " - ???", exactly like two of the other four interns listed there). I sat for half an hour while she sorted out other priorities, then for another after she retrieved a copy of my CV and set out to consult with colleagues as to what to do with me.

Finally, an official pronouncement came - I'd spend a week with Monitoring and Investigations, primarily crafting a grant proposal for monitoring activities associated with refugee return. After that, maybe a week with the security team? It seems my summer will be made up as it goes along, one week at a time. For the moment, this means the love-seat and coffee table in the M&I office have become my temporary desk, and that a smiling man named Safi will be my supervisor for the week. So far, so good.

The oddities of crafting a work plan for a program I know nothing about, on the other hand, are many. The project consists mostly of asking Safi endless questions, leading him to call assorted offices and request piles of documents. In between answers, I sip tea and read from The History of the Peloponnesian War. In two days in the office, I've read about 60 pages and consumed approximately 17 cups of tea. We're two drafts in, and I've at least begun to understand where the project seems to be going. Not at all bad for the second day...


(as promised, the rose garden back at the guest house, from which I'll be composing most of these updates...)

5 comments:

Matt said...

Nice guesthouse! Much nicer than my old one.

Gordon said...

Good to see someone else appreciating the truth that there exists no such thing as quite enough tea.

KEP said...

Actually, I'm usually a coffee person, but tea will do in a pinch. Also, it's just dry enough here that having something to drink on hand is very much welcome (and something that's been boiled first all the more so).

Sabrina said...

I know that guesthouse pretty well! Don't you love the tiny hole of the bathroom you have?!

KEP said...

Hey - yeah, I don't mind so much, but Afreen is still mildly traumatized by the facilities... :)
Where are you these days?