By Jessy Rajan
The end is in sight, just under five weeks left at IMEPLAN and I wonder and reflect on what I’ve done and what is left. Since returning from the Christmas holidays, time has just flown and it is hard to believe we are now at February. As I reflect on the past four months in Guadalajara, I think about, more than anything, the changes we’ve seen in this continent, but also about my life in this city and at IMEPLAN.
To begin, I’ve come to realize that the most important part of an internship is to understand the field of work better, rather than to necessarily gain specific experience. My time at IMEPLAN gave insight into the world of city planning at a metropolitan scale in a developing country. I have become familiar with the layers of bureaucracy and political influence in a planning institute. These types of challenges slow (and sometimes halt) development often seen in the private sector. As a direct result of the bureaucratic process, my project, waste management, was delayed for nearly three months and now, with just over one month left of my internship, will be moving forward rapidly.
Despite the challenges I’ve faced in the work place, (with my project, integrating into the office, the language barrier etc.) I have made a great home in Guadalajara. The opportunity to live in Guadalajara, for me, was definitely the main benefit of the internship. Since moving here, I’ve felt very comfortable and fulfilled by my lifestyle. It is a great city for cycling, there are great opportunities for entertainment and the food is amazing. The city hosts many entertainment and cultural events throughout the year, emphasizing the importance on quality of life. In turn, I have had a great quality of life.
As I approach my 6th month, I begin to realize that I need to go home (Canada). If I could, I would live in Guadalajara for years, but at this point, with the current state of politics, I think I belong in Canada. As a visible minority in Canada, I have experienced segregation and divisiveness; racism has been subdued, but not eliminated. With the recent events in the United States, I worry that the standard of leadership in Canada will degrade and begin to waver on important issues. With an impending provincial election (in British Columbia), I feel that now is the time to be involved in politics and to actively participate in an earned democracy.
Although I have had vast fortunate opportunities to travel, living abroad has always been my goal. This internship has allowed me to live in a new city, in a different country/ culture and reach an important goal. Though, I hope to find this opportunity again, I have also realized the importance of contributing to the community I come from. Mexico, I’ll be back, but for now it’s time to go home.