The past year and a half have been a time of great transition and uncertainty for all of us at the NIH, both personally and professionally. Like countless other administrative offices at NIH, the staff at the Division of International Services (DIS) have been called to rapidly change the way we work while maintaining the high level of service our community is accustomed to. The staff at DIS has indeed stepped up to the plate—amended processes, worked longer hours when necessary, and come together as a team to solve complex problems that NIH's international scientists and their Institutes and Centers faced during the pandemic.
While this accomplishment is commendable and a source of pride among DIS staff, it is understandable that after such an abrupt period of change in all areas of life, there would be a certain level of fatigue. In recognition of the efforts that the DIS staff has made, and in keeping with the larger theme of "Self-Care and Wellness" adopted by the NIH, DIS reinstated its annual training for staff on Wednesday, October 27 with a theme of Courage, Renewal and Wellness. DIS Training, typically an annual event, was canceled in 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic. This year, the DIS Training Committee planned a virtual event so that all staff could safely participate.
DIS invited a professional facilitator from the Seattle-based Center for Courage & Renewal to speak to the staff. The Center's mission is to create a more just, compassionate, and healthy world by nurturing personal and professional integrity and the courage to act on it. They believe that distrust, stress, isolation and burnout are robbing society of what's possible when people bring integrity and humanity to the places where they live and work. The speaker highlighted the ways that people in helping roles can be empowered to be guided by their own inner-principles and to rekindle the flame of why they joined their professional field.
In addition to the professional speaker, senior staff from all DIS office teams shared the challenges we have encountered this past year and a half, and the many ways that we overcame those challenges. DIS Director Candelario Zapata also shared statistics to demonstrate our drastically increased workload and the excellent response our office has shown. The 2021 DIS Annual Training proved to be a positive time to come together as an office, reflect and thank each other for a job well done.
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