I had the pleasure of being with the Human Security programme from 2015-17. When time came for an internship, I had the chance to link up with a cool project on education in Sierra Leone and spent a semester working together with Youth Dream Centre Sierra Leone who work with non-formal education. This is also what I focused my thesis around. And I actually still collaborate with this organisation – because the internship happened to lead to my first (and current) job with the organisation Dreamtown that I co-founded in 2017. Safe to say Human Security made an impact in my life!
In Dreamtown, I am Head of Programmes and do a lot of project management and partnership development. Dreamtown works to improve the wellbeing of young people in cities, and we are teamed up with organisations in Sierra Leone, Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Lately, we have also taken on engagement work with young people in Denmark. Our core programmes evolve around supporting youth to take the lead in making their communities safer, greener, and more creative. Young people in slums, informal settlement, ghettos, and poor urban neighborhoods face a wide range of threats to their securities – so there are many parallels back to my studies in my job.
I think, in many cases, it takes meeting the world to realize what you learned in all those years of school. And it might not come out clearly every day. For me, Human Security was building a foundation for being curious and for working in, and understanding better, global partnerships. My brain has not loaded a whole lot of the names of authors and theories – but it managed to adapt a more holistic view on security, and insecurity. And how we need to be good at designing and managing context sensitive interventions if we want sustainable impact. I really support any academic journey to encourage people to meet the world, wherever it might be. Because we all have to start somewhere to figure out how all the studies can bring us to contribute. I think the Human Security programme did that really well, through the internship opportunities, guest lectures, etc. Also, I will never forget the word zooxanthellae (thank you, Tropical ecosystem management). I am sure it will come in handy some day!
Recommendations? Maybe don’t worry or stress too much about where you start out – but try to find places to contribute where you can share ideas and work towards them with other people. And try to work with people from different disciplines and work contexts – that’s where the magic happens, and that’s when you will finally get your “Ahaa, so THAT is what I learned!” – moments.
– Nina Fredslund Ottosen.