UoR alumna working to reduce poverty

Today’s blog is from Rika Idei who is using the skills she learned during her MA in Social Development and Sustainable Livelihoods, to study the effectiveness of development projects on poverty reduction. Here she explains what attracted her to Reading, and why she would recommend it for those who want to work as development practitioners in the field of sustainability, particularly those living and working overseas.

UoR Blog_2I had two main reasons for my decision to apply to the MA course at the University of Reading (UoR). Firstly, it offered comprehensive programs related to international development, through the Graduate Institute of International Development and Applied Economics (GIIDAE). That comprehensiveness was helpful for us to rethink ‘development’ from various perspectives. The second reason was that only UoR had an MA course aimed at revisiting ‘livelihoods’, which is essential when discussing how people’s lives should be improved sustainably through development works.

After joining the course, I noticed many interesting things. For instance, most of the students had experience as practitioners from all over the world. We could enjoy exchanging opinions based on our own field experiences and, sometimes, lecturers and professors joined our discussions. Another finding was that it had a robust academic network among the universities in the UK, which provided us with access to their libraries, and helped me to find a variety of texts related to my dissertation.

UoR Blog_1Before coming to the UK, I worked for more than three years as a regional planner in developing countries. Even after such an exciting period, the one-year life at UoR was a life-changing experience that broadened my perspectives and changed my communication style. I enjoyed my living environment, which was well equipped, and offered a very comfortable and secure room for students to study. The city was safe and convenient for shopping, and was covered well by public transportation networks. Throughout the year, I experienced plenty of local culture through various art events and concerts offered by local performers. I thoroughly enjoyed living and studying in Reading.

Nowadays, there are many universities offering international development courses all over the world. However, I would really recommend UoR as a strong option, if you want to pursue your career as a development practitioner. You can study the area you are interested in for your future career, with students and professors from diverse backgrounds and with a wide range of experience.

You can find out more about GIIDAE at the University of Reading here.


Why become a mentor?

As alumni of the University, there are lots of ways you can get involved with current projects and students. As an alumna myself, I recently have taken the opportunity to become a mentor as part of the University’s Thrive Mentoring Scheme. I decided to sign up for several reasons: to give something back to the University that has given me so much, to improve my CV, and also so that I can share my experience with other alumni who may be considering becoming mentors themselves.

It’s early days so far, but I am so glad I did decide to join Thrive. Not only have I realised that I do in fact have something to offer (I wasn’t sure that I did!), but it has also enabled me to see how enthusiastic, passionate and entrepreneurial our students are! I don’t interact with students day to day, and becoming a mentor has helped me to really feel part of the University community as a whole. My mentee reminds me a bit of myself at his age – he has so many interests and different roads that he wants to follow, but he knows he needs to be realistic and focus on clear next steps in order to really achieve his ambitions.  Our first meeting was a great experience, and we both came out of it feeling inspired and motivated. He has already implemented some of the suggestions I made, and knowing that he values my contribution is particularly rewarding. Based on my experience so far, I would say that if you hear the call next year, sign up!

For more detail on the scheme and the benefits, watch me being interviewed by our wonderful Volunteering Officer, Charlotte.

Samantha Horsfield copy

Thrive launched in 2015 with a focus on finding mentors for students from Maths and Biological Sciences. You can read more about this in our most recent issue of Giving Matters. As it was so successful, we are now working to broaden the range of students who will benefit. You can find out more about the scheme by visiting http://www.reading.ac.uk/careers/placements/thrive/.