How the Activia Training Scholarship will help me in my study of Conflict, Security, and Development.
From a young age, I was immersed in the developing world, witnessing the effects of conflict and poverty. My parents founded InnerCHANGE, an NGO dedicated to helping those living in crippling poverty in Africa, Asia and the Americas. Unsurprisingly, my interest in development and conflict emerged out of my first-hand experiences in impoverished and frequently violent communities. I was a teenager before I fully realised that these experiences were not the “norm” for most people my age. Most of these experiences have never left me, imprinted on my memory whether I will it or not. But I wouldn’t change even one. They have shaped my life and my learning path in a way that nothing else ever could have.
These unique experiences are what drive my desire to learn about and understand the relationship between conflict, security, and development. Some were particularly poignant. While visiting South Africa, I stayed in the Soshanguve Township outside of Pretoria. Being a member of the first white family to stay in the home of a black family in the township, I personally encountered the legacy of Apartheid in that community. On the other side of the world, I saw first-hand how a failing economy facilitated violence in Pedro Camejo, a barrio in Caracas, Venezuela, first when I visited and later through the experiences of my friends who grew up there. I volunteered with InnerCHANGE in Cambodia in 2010 and again in Guatemala in 2014. In Cambodia, I studied the Khmer Rouge inflicted genocide and UN intervention—a shockingly recent horror and yet unknown to so many of my peers. I also worked with children and adults living in poverty with HIV. Similarly, in Quetzaltenango, I studied Guatemala’s recent civil war as well as the current dangers faced by migrants making the treacherous journey from Central America to the USA.
After graduating from the University of York in 2016, I devoted my time to further studying and exploring different countries, cultures and peoples. My study of the break-up of Yugoslavia and the Bosnian genocide particularly impacted me. Travelling through Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia, it was fascinating to see how each country emerged out of the conflict, some more scarred than others. I have travelled and worked widely, from volunteering with migrants in Spain to working with international relief and development organisations like Christian Aid and All We Can in London, eager to learn as much as I can in the field. These learning opportunities have expanded my understanding and fuelled my continued study of conflict and development, leading me to where I am today.
I was fortunate enough to be accepted to study Conflict, Security, and Development as a postgraduate student in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London—a leading centre in the study of global conflict. For me, learning has always been something done both inside and outside of the classroom. The one complements the other. Studying these three topics together will give me invaluable insight into development born out of conflict and the connection between security and continued growth. Armed with this knowledge, I hope to work in and with countries that have recently suffered conflict and trauma in order to facilitate development and ensure continued peace and stability.
Having grown up in London, I know all too well the expense of living and studying in this beautiful (and unfortunately, ridiculously overpriced) city. While learning should be a right open to people of all ages, it is so often restricted to a privileged few. I have been more fortunate than most in my opportunities, but the Activia Scholarship would go a long way in helping enable me to fund my study and consequently, accomplish my goals in the development sector. I believe this course will challenge me and equip me with the tools to successfully bring change to and strengthen communities that have experienced violence and are in the process of rebuilding. The Activia Scholarship would bring me one step closer to realising these ambitions.
This article was written for the Activia Training Scholarship. More information about the scholarship can be found at https://www.activia.co.uk/scholarship-uk
Photography by Savannah Hayes
Top: Poem outside of the Ars Aevi Contemporary Art Museum in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Founded in 1992 while Sarajevo was under siege, the museum was a cultural stand against the conflict engulfing the city.