I’m officially half way through my summer (winter) internship. Four weeks in the country, and only four left… what a blast so far!
Working with UNICEF in Zimbabwe has opened my eyes to a world of development, fundraising, public policy, diplomacy, and politics. But above all, I have seen with growing clarity how all of these components combine to affect people. UNICEF exists to protect and promote the rights of children and women around the globe, and it has been very inspiring to meet the people that keep such an important machine rolling along.
So what have I experienced so far? I’ve learned about Zimbabwe, about her Diaspora and the remittances sent to family and communities back home. I’ve learned about life in the UN, specifically UNICEFs role in the development sector and in Zimbabwe’s context, where they are truly a major player in policy and program discussions. I’ve been able to use my recently acquired economic knowhow by jumping into fiscal space discussions and meeting with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. I’ve learned that writing papers in the public policy domain is a skill that civil engineer’s with 3/5 MBAs don’t necessarily have. I’ve learned that winter in Zim means chilly, early nights, and that the best beer (so far!) is from Namibia. Folks in business attire meet to have a beer outside of the bottle store to save a dollar, and although it is winter I can still get sunburnt in under an hour.
Zimbabwe has a difficult, complex history that I cannot begin to understand. However, from my experiences in Harare and the surrounding area it is a safe country, people are nice and generous, fun and easy going. You cannot simply say hello – you have to at least say ‘how are you’, or my local favorite ‘howsit’. People here are smart and well-spoken, business oriented and hard working. If certain political and economic factors can be addressed, I think the potential in Zimbabwe is limitless.
The first half of my internship has been everything I could have hoped for. Adventure, culture, friendship, new languages, new food, and above all finding meaning in working an eight hour day. You only live once folks… make the most of it! Alas, off to a cricket match between India and the hosts Zimbabwe. It’s my first time watching cricket and I really hope there are a few home runs to go around. Go Zim go!
– By William Maize (IESE MBA Class ’16)