I’ve been pretty darn lucky this year. For one thing, I’ve just started interning at the International Resources Office at the UUA. I’ve also had opportunities to visit Mexico, Bangladesh and Haiti, so I’ve gotten to ask a lot of questions about what responsible, long-term international engagement looks like. Traveling on the first joint UUA/UUSC trip to Haiti this summer I learned to think more deeply about how we can work with people in developing nations to build capacity, on their own terms. The construction we did with traditional tools at the agricultural collective MPP showed us how, as UUs in the U.S., sometimes picking up a pickaxe is the best way we can work toward the goals of seeing water, education, and shelter accessible to folks in rural Haiti. In January, on a Borderlinks trip (a Tucson-based organization partnering with us at 2012 Justice GA), I witnessed people’s lives deeply cut by issues of economics and work, how people’s stories of migration are politicized, and where the ethics of national borders get sticky, when people risk their lives to get a chance at a better life. In August in Bangladesh, I met with women NGO workers committed to the painstaking work of reducing poverty and creating uplift for women and for their country, teaching me on-the-ground lessons about the ways to approach the work of liberation when a vision of a just and equitable future meets the way things have always been done. Now, I get to see how our denomination engages with these issues, the many ways our congregations are extending care and work throughout the world. I get to help congregations find their voice in international work, or to support them in the projects they’re already working on. I can’t wait! If you’ve got thoughts about how the International Office can be useful to your congregation in its efforts to do international work, I hope you’ll email me! It would be great to hear what you’re working on and how we might be able to help. Kye Flannery is a student at Harvard Divinity School, focused on pastoral care and religion and social movements, which at the moment includes reading the writing of Muslim feminists and learning about Buddhist approaches to justice work.