I haven’t decided if I’ll keep using this blog, but for now, a quick update. It’s been a hectic summer since finishing up my contract with Community Enterprise Solutions in Guatemala at the end of May. Before heading back to the states, I passed through Nicaragua for about ten days of travel/exploration, then spent the rest of June with family in San Francisco and DC…all the while searching for a new job.

The job search process was hard but not as painful as I had envisioned – in June I was offered a job with USAID’s new U.S. Global Development Lab, as a Program Assistant in the Center for Global Solutions. It took a while to get in the door as I had to wait for my security clearance to be processed, but I started a few weeks ago and it’s been great so far.

So, what is the U.S. Global Development Lab? Most importantly, it’s brand new – officially founded in May, by bringing together two existing offices at the agency, the Office of Science and Technology and IDEA (the Office of Innovation and Development Alliances). The lab works to promote STIP – Science, Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships – throughout the agency’s work, both in partner missions in the field and in helping to redefine how business is conducted on a day-to-day basis in the agency. Specifically, I work in the Center for Global Solutions, which is charged with driving widespread adoption (“scaling up”) of proven, transformative solutions across the globe. The “solutions” in the pipeline already vary widely, from a simple antiseptic that minimizes risk of infection in newborns when applied to the umbilical cord right after birth to promoting digital payments as an alternative to circulating cash.

it’s been a whirlwind of learning new acronyms, policies, and procedures – it feels almost like learning an entirely new language – but working at USAID, and especially at the Global Development Lab has been so exciting so far. The team is smart, engaging, and innovative, and I couldn’t think of a better space for me to transition from my past year of intense fieldwork in Guatemala. I especially love what I’ve already seen as the Lab’s radical determination to do anything but the status quo – to shake things up, to be prepared to fail, and ultimately, to change the way that “business as usual” is conducted at the agency as a whole.

And so – here we go. DC is no Lake Atitlan, mangos at the Whole Foods down the street cost way more than 5 quetzales (70 cents), and I can’t spend my weekends feeding my newly discovered addiction to climbing volcanoes…but it’ll be a new adventure nonetheless.