On A Friendly Chat With a Rich Person

@TheclaAndTheSeals This is exactly where I am, too, except for us, it was that we lived on my mid-range salary (work for a gov't contractor) while my husband was in law school, and once he graduated, we now have not only a dual income, but one piece of it is big. That said, we pay the equivalent of rent a second time each month to cover his loans, and moved to NY, which is more expensive than DC, where we lived before. Overall, we're definitely in the "rich" category based on what we earn, but paying off loans and trying to save now that we can means we don't live any differently than we did before.

Posted on February 7, 2013 at 9:19 pm 0

On Crushing Debt Drove Me to Kosovo — And Then to Iraq

@oiseau I'd say - apply for jobs (in the US, or wherever you're based) with organizations that do the type of work you're interested in - whatever jobs they've got at the entry level, and take a few years to see it from the inside :)

Posted on September 12, 2012 at 4:11 pm 0

On Crushing Debt Drove Me to Kosovo — And Then to Iraq

@oiseau I have a BS in Foreign Service, and have worked for an aid contractor for about 9 years doing communications and proposal/ grantwriting. That particular assignment was to replace someone who had a family emergency and had to go back to the US. I was hired out of college (in an entry level position), and have stayed with the same company, which makes me a bit unusual. Typically, if you're an American who wants to go overseas on an aid project, you need: - At least 5 years of relevant experience, plus a (hopefully relevant)advanced degree; - If it's a management position, prior experience managing contracts or grants, and managing personnel; and - Language skills are a definite plus. Generally speaking, the higher the capacity of the country where you're going, the more educated/highly experienced you need to be - it's unlikely an NGO is going to hire an American accountant in, say, Kenya or Morocco, because they can just hire one from the local accounting firm. In Afghanistan or the DRC, on the other hand, where literacy and numeracy rates are low, and fraud is high(er), it's more likely that they'll hire Americans/Europeans for more junior positions. The other option is to work for a smaller organization, where you can often get a position with less experience (although I'd recommend against this if it's a dangerous place), or to join the Peace Corps (or a similar service organization) and get to know a country well, and then stay there and work with that country as your "home." I'd definitely do it again - I've been to a lot of places, including the West Bank, Liberia, Nigeria, Haiti, Ethiopia, Tunisia and Thailand, but I'm also not super-typical, as I like being US-based (so most of my travel has been short-term), and have kind of worn my wanderlust out via multiple 12-hour flights in coach :)

Posted on September 12, 2012 at 1:44 pm 2

On Crushing Debt Drove Me to Kosovo — And Then to Iraq

@redheaded&crazy Yeah. While I think there is of course some waste and abuse of aid funding, for a US government contract, we actually have to invoice down to an insane level for things like office supplies, etc., let alone salaries and benefits. You can argue that the US Government offers too much in the way of incentives for people to live overseas, but I'm not sure the young idealists are the abusers in this situation (most people I know would've gone for less, but weren't going to negotiate their benefits packages DOWN).

Posted on September 12, 2012 at 1:15 pm 0

On Crushing Debt Drove Me to Kosovo — And Then to Iraq

Posted on September 12, 2012 at 1:13 pm 0

On Crushing Debt Drove Me to Kosovo — And Then to Iraq

@Ophelia Also, I'd very much like to talk about how F'd up it is that one of the only ways people of our generation are able to pay off their grad school debt (even people who were not as irresponsible as this author sounds), and do mundane things like buy an apartment is to live overseas in dangerous places.

Posted on September 12, 2012 at 1:13 pm 1

On Crushing Debt Drove Me to Kosovo — And Then to Iraq

@Miss Havisham@twitter Yeah. I spent a month in Iraq as the communications person on a contract working to salvage Iraq's agricultural sector. I did come out (slightly) on top, money-wise (as I received danger pay and had no expenses), but I don't consider myself a war profiteer. I have a lot of friends who spent several years working in Afghanistan on community development projects, and similarly, while they did get paid well for their work, they also came back with deep ties to the people they worked with on the ground and accomplished some pretty amazing things while they were there. The way I've always thought about it is: sometimes the US Government gets involved in conflicts I don't agree with. Iraq is one of those. But if we do screw things up, it's also our responsibility to put them right. We can (and should) have a conversation about whether our attempts to put them right have been successful.

Posted on September 12, 2012 at 1:06 pm 2

On Crushing Debt Drove Me to Kosovo — And Then to Iraq

@TARDIStime Base salaries are pretty comparable in the international NGO world to the domestic non-profit world, but the allowances you get for living overseas on a contract/grant (particularly one funded by the US Government) can double your take-home pay (particularly if it's a dangerous place).

Posted on September 12, 2012 at 1:01 pm 0