In September,2015, I arrived in the United Kingdom(UK). This was after sorting out the English requirement test complications that almost made me lose my scholarship. After interacting with other scholars, I got to learn many scholars had similar experiences. So my advice to the 2016/17 Cohort is, sort out your English test requirements as soon as possible.
I began my journey in the UK, with getting lost due to the new environment. Good thing, I found a helpful school and faith community that gave me a quick orientation. In no time, I was up to speed on everything.
As an MA Development Studies Student, I joined the University of Sussex, Institute of Development Studies(IDS) at an exciting time for two reasons. First, University of Sussex had just been ranked number one in the top 100 universities in the world for Development Studies. Secondly, the world was in the process of adopting the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs), and IDS had been very instrumental in the process. So, I was not just at the right institution. I was at the right school at the right time.
After going through lectures, workshops and seminars at IDS, I now understand why it’s the headquarters of development studies in Europe and was named global number 1 in 2015.
The highlight of my academic journey at IDS has been the Robert Chambers Participatory Development Workshops. The Robert Chambers workshops groom development professionals to embrace the fundamental values of humanity. These are values of respect, patience, humility, listening, and discipline. Development is not just about systems, and infrastructure, it is about people.
Of course, I didn’t stick to lectures, writing, workshops and books always. I also had fun. In December 2015, I was part of the IDS Pantomime, where staff and students got a chance to sing, dance, and laugh at development fads and fashions. I was also part of IDS 50 students and employees party, where people took a day off from deadlines enjoyed themselves. I was also part of the church and school potlucks, and Brighton Community lunch on Friday.
On 6th May 2016, I got to attend the launch of the CommonTies. CommonTies is a new Commonwealth program for young leaders from around the Commonwealth who are temporarily based in the UK for study or work are to be connected and engaged. Through CommonTies, I got to network with fellow young leaders from different Commonwealth countries. I also got to hear an inspiration talk by the Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.
In June 2016, I was part of the team that debated the motion, are referendums the most efficient way of deciding government policy? Our team comprised Sibusiso Sgwane (South Africa), Samuel Gonzalez Garcia (Mexico) and myself. It was a great privilege working with these folks. And yes! Our team won.
In the same month I was among the 32 Chevening scholars that received awards for volunteering during the 2015/2016 academic year.
One question that I get mostly is, how do you manage to attend all these events, write blogs and also take care of your academic life? It is all about time management. It starts with not making excuses about not having enough time. 24 hours is a lot of time for people who manage their time well. Do not let today’s work, to be done tomorrow. If possible, make it point to clear your plate daily, and your will be amazed at how much you can accomplish in a week.