#1 What university are you currently attending?
I’m about to enter my second year at the University of Manchester here in the UK.
#2 What is your major/minor? Any course highlights?
I’m studying for a Bachelor of Science. in International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response. The course is the perfect fit for me, as I have always been interested in humanitarianism — even since before joining TGS. The institute in Manchester has really amazing links with big names in the field so my lecturers, including ex-Medicine sans Frontières president Rony Bernaud, offer incredible insight into the industry and academic thought surrounding humanitarianism.
#3 Are you affiliated with any clubs/groups/activities you’d like to highlight?
Since starting university I’ve become hooked on rock climbing so I typically spend 12+ hours a week down the local bouldering centre and occasionally I climb outdoors, when it is not raining that is. I have also gotten involved with the Expedition Society at the university. As a society, we work to put on talks from individuals spanning a range of fields, everything from mountain medicine through to conservation missions, to showcase the variety of expeditionary opportunities available. When I am not climbing or organising talks with the Exped club, I’ll be racking up the miles on my beloved road bike, Edith.
#4 What is the most challenging/rewarding part of your current studies/work?
To be honest, academically my first year of university has not been that challenging. Anyone who has done the IB can attest to the fact that very little compares to those gruelling last few months of extended essays, internal assessments and so many exams. Not to mention the travelling on top of that!
But the most challenging aspect of my degree so far became clear to me last October when I went to visit my brother in Greece. He was working as a project coordinator in refugee camps all over the country at the time and when visiting and shadowing him in his daily rounds, I really began to question what the place of academics are in the humanitarian field. These were vulnerable individuals who have escaped relative hell in order to seek safety. It made me ask, “Where is the ethical line drawn where academic inquiry becomes exploitation of the suffering of others?” But I guess that’s what my degree is about: to appropriately prepare us to sensitively and ethically work within this field.
“Softex” Refugee Camp near Thessaloniki. The camp is situated in an abandoned toilet paper factory.
#5 What does the future look like for you?
I’d say both the immediate and more long-term future are both looking pretty exciting! I have just moved into my first house which is pretty adult — weird, right? Also, I have just started volunteering at a charity-run coffee shop that invests all its profits into projects that are combatting homelessness in Manchester. I have become a total coffee nerd since leaving TGS (I even roast my own beans), so I am looking forward to combining a passion of mine with positive action that is helping my community. More long term, I am really enjoying university, so I definitely want to stay on for a masters or more. Dr. Hartley has a pretty good ring to it…
#6 What is the biggest payoff TGS has given you in your uni or adult experience?
Being a student at TGS granted me an incredible insight into cultures, thoughts, and experiences from around the world. It allowed me to experience more of the world in three years than most do in a lifetime, and that’s something I feel lucky and thankful for everyday. These experiences have definitely given me the ability to connect with a huge variety of people of every age and from every walk of life.