By Naomi Gichungu, 1st year MDP student
Working at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) over the past two months has been fulfilling. I remember a while back in 2012 I applied to volunteer with the Institute but my application was denied since at the time, the existing internship opportunities could only take Canadian residents and Permanent Residents. My training is on climate change and environmental education. The Institute being a think tank in these two areas has therefore given me a chance to dine with the sharks.
I did not need an intensive orientation program into the work that the organization is involved in as I have often followed its work thanks to social media. I was excited about doing some work within the Hudson Bay Inland Sea Initiative (HBISI) program coordinated by the IISD. Having met with my supervisor a couple of times prior to my start, I was well aware of the project we would be working on and I started off within my first week. I met so many new people including other interns from Germany and Mexico which only meant good company over office lunch breaks.
As part of the research project I am to develop a stakeholder analysis of organizations working in the Hudson Bay. My supervisor provided me with books to read that would inform me what activities were taking place within the Bay. This took up the very first month including writing up the analysis report. There was a lot of learning in this first month. From the project, I learnt about the communities, the majority being Inuit and Cree, occupying the Bay and their way of life. I now can draw the Hudson Bay area without looking at a map, expertise gained from continuous reference to the map of the region.
The second month was the busiest with our major project being to develop survey questions and a sample frame from our sample population. Time went by so fast and there was a lot to do. I had so much fun working with colleagues from the Ottawa office with a keen interest in the direction my research project was taking. So much knowledge was generated from the input of my supervisor and during meetings with the Ottawa staff.
The month of July shall be the highlight of my work at IISD. I am looking forward to my travels to Churchill to work with organizations both at community level and government level to collect data for the survey. I am excited to work with the communities and until then, be on the lookout for my next blog and visit the HBISI website (http://www.hbisi.org/) to learn more of the great work IISD is involved in the Bay.