The Development Advisory Team (DAT) works with some of the largest international development organizations around the world for the course of the semester. Acting as short-term consultants, students are to understand clearly the scope of their project while keeping in mind the big picture of the client organization's goals and purposes. Denise Umubyeyi, student from Steve Reifenberg's spring 2014 class, shares with her mentee Maggie Guzman, a student from spring 2016, on how DAT can deliver valuable results by having an in-depth understanding of both the small and picture of the client organization.
Denise’s tips centered around two main themes: effectively handling the Development Advisory Team (DAT) project and the class that we will be teaching. Regarding the DAT (she worked with Compañeros En Salud/Partners in Health), she said that one of her main takeaways was to develop an understanding of what the organization stands for as well as for the project’s goals from the organization’s perspective. Hopefully, this should be able to get done early on in the process. She mentioned that she had to recommend a board and partnerships for CES in Chiapas, and one thing she realized later on in the game was that it would have been useful to have had a deeper (and time-wise, earlier) understanding of CES in Chiapas, as this would have facilitated the process of figuring out major stakeholders. A way to do this is to talk with the head of the organization early on in the process, defining the problem that the ND team will address and the resources you have available to do so. That way, you’ll both be on the same page. She also talked about the importance of having a dynamic team, and making the effort to include everyone throughout the process.
Denise taught her class on accompaniment. When I asked her why she chose that topic, she said that she chose something that was really close to home and was passionate about at the personal level – and that most students felt the same way about their respective topics. She encouraged me to approach the problem according to my discipline (economics & political science) and background, and encourage the rest of the class to bring their different backgrounds to the exercises, as a really valuable asset in this class is our diversity.
Development Advisory Team: Partners in Health, Mexico
"Following graduation in May 2014, I stayed in South Bend for the summer serving as an AmeriCorp member at the Robinson Community Learning Center. That same summer, I had the awesome opportunity to TA for Steve and teach on the concept of Accompaniment to a group of Latin American Law Degree seeking students. Two very important things I learned in the IDS class: 1) the concept we all know very well of accompaniment and most importantly 2) teaching and explaining a concept in a way other people who'd never heard of the concept could understand. The most special thing about this class for me was the fact that many of us had such different backgrounds from one another and this really enriched conversation and brought different perspectives to the table."