I’ve always hated Sundays. Ever since I was a young child the anticipation of the coming week about to begin, combined with the anxiety of said week’s challenges always made me feel a bit restless. Tonight is no exception. I am about to begin an adventure – a big, big, slightly scary, okay terrifying, big, adventure. In late March I – along with four other incredibly talented and intelligent students – was selected as one of Dalhousie University’s first Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholars (QES). Fancy title; my Mom is pretty proud. The aim of the QES program is to:
“increase collaboration between Canadian universities and Commonwealth country partners, via student scholarship placements, to lay the foundation for the next generation of entrepreneurs, public servants, community leaders and academics with innovative minds and a sense of commitment to Canada and the Commwealth.”
… tall order, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, tall order. As a result, in the next 48 hours I will travel to Ottawa to meet the Governor General and Jean Chretien (my hero), travel back to Halifax, and then make the long journey to Kampala, Uganda where I will serve as an intern for Food Rights Alliance (FRA) until the end of August. FRA is a coalition constituted in 1999 to bring together Civil Social Organisations working in the field of sustainable agriculture and food security in Uganda. For more information about FRA, please check out http://secure.fra.ug/.
In a sense, my adventure began quite some time ago. On June 16th, 1994 I was born in Saint Boniface Hospital… just joking; this blog will probably be tedious to read at times, but not that tedious. My adventure actually began in the Dalhousie Dentistry Building sitting in INTD 3002 – Introduction to Development IV. INTD 3002 is an International Development Studies (IDS) course that is focused on the practice of development within the context of development organizations, such as NGOs. I thought some practical experience would come in handy, seeing as I am pursuing a minor in IDS with an honours in Political Science – don’t worry, the IDS department has yet to completely indoctrinate me… yet. Anyhow, on the first day of INTD 3002, our professor asked us to do a “coffee paper” (a paper that you write in the time that it takes to drink a cup of coffee) on the question: “Where do I fit in the world of development?” The question of where I fit in the world of development was a reoccurring theme throughout the course, and by the end of it – around the time when the QES internships were announced – I think I found my answer.
Since the end of INTD 3002, I have realized that I fit as a ‘learner’ in the world of development. After all, my journey thus far has been one of learning. As a student, I have researched topics that I found interesting, attended lectures, read books, and written countless essays and exams. Heading into the next few months, I believe that I will continue in my role as a learner. In fact, if I can bring anything to Uganda it is not knowledge or expertise, but rather a steadfast willingness to learn.
My journey continued in the weeks following the end of the winter semester at Dal. I attended a number of security briefings, became a pin cushion for a travel doctor (6 needles at once, not fun), and went to several pre-departure meetings. Now, sitting here at my desk in my room in Halifax, I feel ready – petrified, but ready. Whatever happens in these next couple of months, good or bad, will be a learning experience and that is enough for me. I’ve always hated Sundays because anticipation and anxiety make me restless, but maybe a bit of restlessness is just what I need right now.
Until next time,