Alisha Bhimji was a 3rd year international development and globalization student at the University of Ottawa when she spent a semester gaining international development work experience in East Africa.
At this point in her academic career, she'd learned a lot about development in the class room, but she really wanted to experience it first hand. By doing so, she gained the understanding of development she was looking for and now has more clarity in her career goals than ever before.
PROBLEM: STUDIED DEVELOPMENT, BUT HAD NEVER TRULY EXPERIENCED IT
Alisha had been studying development and had an interest in working in the field, but she didn't really know, aside from what she'd learned in class, what development really was like.
"I have always had an interest in development work and was excited to finally be studying development theory at uOttawa. The problem was that I had never actually traveled to a developing country so not only did I not truly understand what development looks like in practice, but I also wasn’t certain that I would enjoy living and working in that context.”
SOLUTION: ALISHA WORKS, STUDIES AND TRAVELS IN UGANDA
What better way to really learn about development then to go out and gain some actual hands-on work experience in the field? That was Alisha's thought, which led her to participating in the Semester In Development in Uganda.
“The best part about the Semester in Development program is it’s three-pronged structure because it promotes a more holistic perspective of development to its participants.
Since working directly with people who are actively trying to impact their own communities and studying development theory from an East African perspective, I have a better understanding of what it means to be underdeveloped. I now recognize the complexities of the day-to-day challenges that are faced on the ground level and am eager to begin contributing.
Seeing the diversity in East Africa was incredible. Over the course of the program I had the opportunity not only to travel to numerous regions in Uganda, but also to visit Rwanda and Tanzania. It was enriching to be exposed to the various cultural differences between these East African countries."
RESULTS: FINDING CLARITY AND DIRECTION ABROAD
Alisha claims that the most valuable thing she gained while interning and studying abroad in Uganda was clarity on what aspect of development work she is interested in pursuing. It also helped her stand out in the job market and secure her current job.
"The Semester in Development reassured me that I want to work in the development field and gave me clarity on what I am looking for in my career. Since returning home I've been more focused and motivated.”
Interested in reading about more student experiences? Click here to read: A Semester In East Africa Led UBC student Jacob Cutts to develop New Perspectives on Development