An unexpected turn of events yet, invaluable lessons learnt

It has now been a bit more than half-way through my internship. I wanted to pause and reflect on everything that has brought me to this very moment and how things unfolded. If someone were to teleport me back in time and ask me whether I believed that all this would happen, I would surely have denied it.

Indeed, everything was perfectly planned. My internship was to start end of April in-person in Lima, Peru at the Instituto de Democracia y Derechos Humanos (IDEHPUCP). Being as excited as I was, I had planned every detail raging from my Airbnb accommodation to my flight there and back, as well as my luggage. Every day I would listen to the news of the country so that I would be informed and well-prepared when I would be there. Every night, I would watch documentaries on Peru, to learn more about the culture, customs, country, and places to visit. I also got in touch with locals and friends for helpful tips.

However, a real-life plot twist took me by surprise. A few days prior to my departure, violent protests including tear gases, injuries, deaths, and blocked roads emerged in the country—and specifically, very near to the region where I was going to stay. To say the least, I was devastated. Due to this turmoil and upheaval, my plans got flustered. My supervisors and locals there, advised me against travelling. Everything went up in the air. In that very moment, despite my confusion and disappointment, I knew that I had learned a very important lesson which was that I should always expect the unexpected.

Now it has already been a few weeks since my start date and I feel grateful despite the rocky beginning. I work with the Institute daily on a fixed schedule, I join meetings with them and help with multiple projects. In fact, this turn of events has not only allowed me to expect the unexpected but also to learn how to adapt to the unexpected once it happens. Further, I feel very happy for all the pre-research that I had priorly done since in some way it, allowed me to travel to Peru without actually having travelled and it helps me understand the context of the work I do.

As much as flexibility was emphasized by the organizers of the IHRIP, I would like to highlight it even further as it was the core theme of my past few weeks. I have learned first-hand what it is like to have to be flexible and do the most out of a situation you can sometimes not control.

Three main lessons I would like to engrave as I move onto the last weeks of my internship, are:

  • Expect the unexpected
  • Flexibility is key to learn how to adapt to the new normal
  • Desire to be constantly challenged

I still have much learning to do, and I am eager to keep on pursuing this process as I complete my time as an intern. With all this in mind, I cannot wait to see how much more I will have learned in just a few more weeks.

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