[janet gunter]

A while ago, I “quit” international development. I never considered myself an “aid worker”, but I’d spent 5 years in total working internationally in the sector.

Mostly at “headquarters” but partly “in the field”. I’d grown tired.

At the time I wrote an unsigned “Dear John” letter to development which stated “no amount of earnest critique, satire, or wounded camaraderie” could help me stay on.

People ask me how I did it. I am always surprised when people approach me for this kind of coaching. While I am happier and more stable than I can remember in my adult life, I remind people I am by no means materially better off.

So. This will not help you decide how to make money or choose a new career. If you are looking for advice about how to feel ok again, and (re)construct meaning in your life after working in international development here are some tips.

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Living in East Timor, a far-away, post-colonial place (not my own city which lived its own fraught history), I became fascinated with the gaps in history.

What is told? What isn’t told? Amateur oral histories led me to the archives, which led me to ethnography, a form of translation.

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