by tuftsigl
Aug 29
As a summer 2014 Empower Fellow, Georgie Nink is the Reporting and Emergency Response Intern at Questscope for Social Development in the Middle East, based in Amman, Jordan. She can be reached at Note: The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not imply Questscope endorsement. 
Though I did not receive academic credit towards my degree when I studied and worked abroad in the spring and summer of 2014, I learned perhaps more than I have learned in any other semester of study at Tufts. Most importantly I learned how to succeed in a dually-cultured work environment through my internship with Questscope (see previous post) in which Jordanian and American staff collaborate to design and implement alternative education programs for at-risk youth. 
It is not controversial to state that a great deal of flexibility is required to succeed in any American workplace from the non-profit to the business world. But working in the space between two cultures, even attempting to form a bridge between them, requires a unique kind of flexibility and understanding. 
Part of my own learning process was my observation of how Questscope navigates the dually-cultured world of development in Jordan. Questscope navigates the space between a donor culture of those who fund its programs, and local culture in which programs are implemented; and within the donor world itself between donors that fund emergency relief interventions (smaller grants over a shorter term) and those that fund social development interventions (larger grants over a long term). 
One example of this type of navigation is Questscope's Informal Education (IFE) program in Za'atari Camp, in which at-risk youth from the camp engage in dialogue-based education sessions facilitated by older Syrian volunteers (also from the camp and trained by Questscope). Some relief-focused donors want to know how this program will provide normalcy for youth during their time in the camp, and strengthen their resilience in the event of future humanitarian disasters. More development-focused donors want to know how the program will prepare the Syrian community (students, teachers, and families) for their eventual transition back to Syria, increasing their capacity to rebuild their own educational system in a place where one in every five schools has been completely destroyed. Still other donors want to know that in designing the IFE program Questscope has integrated gender equality initiatives in an effort to reduce gender-based violence (GBV), considered environmental factors, adhered to international codes of conduct for humanitarian assistance, and included their logos on every sheet of paper that is printed in relation to the project.
Meanwhile, Questscope staff who spend their days in Za'atari Camp overseeing program implementation have a different set of priorities. They must navigate the formal and informal structures of the camp in order to recruit new teachers, refer IFE students to official Za'atari schools, ensure the program has a strong base of community support, and obtain permission from camp authorities for IFE teachers to participate in off-site training. They must ensure the program is flexible and adaptable enough to accommodate students or teachers who have to work during the day or those who fast during the month of Ramadan, while still meeting donor requirements.
The IFE program is not a shapeshifter, although Questscope staff must write about it in different ways in different contexts. Flexibility is key to the IFE program's survival. The various writing components about the IFE program must complement (not contradict) each other as well as accurately reflect what is happening in the field. It is the same kind of flexibility that allowed me to navigate my own versatile and often-changing position, and to be not only understanding of and fluent in differing and often contradicting perspectives but able to adapt my work to fit those perspectives; and the same kind of flexibility that allows Questscope to successfully navigate the space between development- and relief-focused donors. 
I am incredibly grateful to the Questscope team for giving me the opportunity to work with them for the past six months, through which I learned this and much more, and to the IGL for funding my internship. A special thank you to Curt Rhodes, Tim Barger, and Mike Niconchuk, three incredible mentors who had a huge and positive impact on my time in Amman. My work with Questscope helped further and clarify my professional goals for senior year and beyond, and I hope to share my  experience with the Tufts community in the coming year. 

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