Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Work and Fun on the 4th of July Weekend

One of the best things about the enormous challenge that is the MDG book project is that all of the past and former students who are part of it are such great people.  It's pretty much impossible to get all, or even a majority, of the contributors in the same place at the same time, but whenever I know that a few who are alumni are coming to Burlington, we try to pull together an in-person meeting.  My two most stalwart teammates in last year's quest for 52 New Things, Siham and Leah had been away from Burlington for far too long, so when they decided to come up for the 4th of July weekend we knew a meeting was in order.

The July MDG meeting crew: Siham (Goal 5, Team Rwanda), Leah (Goal 7, editorial team), Amanda (Goal 5, Team Rwanda), Matt (Goal 8, Team Bangladesh), Michelle (Goal 1), and Annie (Goal 7, Team Bangladesh)
In addition to the 3-4 person teams that are working on individual chapters on the eight goals that constitute the Millennium Development Goals, there are four teams that have recently completed field research in four case study places that we are including in the book -- Ecuador, Bangladesh, the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and Rwanda.  (Two of the students involved in the case teams have been keeping their own blogs -- Annie (Bangladesh) and Alyssa (Ecuador), which I hope everyone will check out as well). Over the fourth of July weekend representatives of three of case study teams were in Burlington, so we knew we had to call a meeting and take the opportunity to talk about commonalities and differences in our experiences, as well as check in on the general chapter work.  I'm going to ask each of the teams to help write a longer post about the four cases, but in the meantime I should note a few of the immediate things that jumped out to all of us.  Of the three teams that were represented, it seemed as though Rwanda was making the most headway in the goals.  As we talked through the interviews and observations we had made, the concept of government capacity loomed large.  Rwanda has done remarkably well in marshaling the relatively large amount of resources that have come, often from donor nations in recent years to make notable strides, particularly in the area of health.  The military occupation of the OPT and the poverty and lack of government capacity in Bangladesh have seriously hobbled both nations from making similar strides. The Ecuador team was still in-country at the time of our meeting, but we're all looking forward to comparing notes with them soon as well.
Leah, Siham and Chris demonstrating the most important Burlington past-time -- sitting on a rock on Church Street and people-watching while eating Ben and Jerry's ice cream

Once our work was done, it was time for Leah, Siham and I to make the most of a fabulous summer holiday weekend, and I think we did a fine job.  Last July we had a similar weekend when we visited the Rokeby Museum. This year, we didn't go to the Rokeby, but we did lots of other Burlington stand-by's, like the Farmer's Market and a little jaunt up Mount Philo.  Leah and I also took a turn at stand-up paddle-boarding, and of course, we went to all our favorite breakfast and dinner places and watched the fireworks at the Burlington waterfront. Just one more weekend reminder that it's hard to beat summer in Burlington!
Siham is not capable of coming to  Burlington without visiting her honey man at the Farmer's Market.  Chris tried to convince her that she needed that lighthouse candle but instead she bought the biggest jar of honey in the world.

Leah and I had a great time paddle boarding but learned an important lesson -- it's easy paddling out with the wind, much harder paddling against it on the way back.
I made Siham and Leah pose for this picture under the rock overhang because I had taken an almost identical one on last year's trip to Mount Philo.


  1. I had an excellent weekend, thank you so much Trish! I am going to miss you so much this winter!

  2. THANK YOU so soo sooo VERY MUCH for a lovely weekend Trish, both productive and fun. Miss you already! (ps: the only sincere smile in that picture is Pedro's) haha