This is a post from The Human Security Angle: the newsletter of the Master’s degree programme in Human Security at Aarhus University.
Nina, why did you decide to study human security at Aarhus University?
For a long time, I thought my call was to become a zoologist and save orangutans in Borneo. It turned out, my brain accepted humanities better than natural science, and I ended up with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Organisational Development instead. When I came across the Human Security programme, it seemed like the perfect combination of social and environmental studies, which also offered an opportunity to engage with real life projects through an internship. Additionally, I was motivated by the idea of being alongside a study community that shared my idea of ‘saving the world’ and of gaining the theoretical foundation for trying (Also, I had read that a lecturer in the program studied palm oil related issues in Borneo and thought that this could be my way to cut corners to achieve that orangutan project of mine).
I was almost on my way to Malaysia to be on board a project that dealt with certification of palm oil but ended up getting an internship with what was then called REACT – a project that focused on education in Sierra Leone. It turned out to be quite a defining experience. I was part of a collaboration with a local organisation called Youth Dream Centre to improve and expand non-formal education for marginalised youth in three cities across the country. My involvement with the project gave me insight into many levels of managing a development project: strengthening organisational capacity, managing funds and donor relations, reporting, monitoring activities, starting new partnerships, and raising new funds. For me, it was probably the first time I really experienced that I could contribute in a meaningful professional contextbecauseof my education – I could use my awareness of different methods and approaches from the Human Security programme in the project in Sierra Leone.
What are you doing at the moment?
I work for the Danish non-governmental organization, Dreamtown, where I am the daily leader – a job that grew out of my Sierra Leonean adventure. Dreamtown works with development partnerships in African cities, to create space for young people living in urban slum communities. At the moment, I am working on a project that focuses on the improvement of public spaces in nine slum communities in Sierra Leone, as well as writing new project applications and developing Dreamtown as an organisation.
What have you taken with you from your human security studies?
I still haven’t met an orangutan; however, the Human Security programme gave me a stronger sense in understanding developmental challenges – and solutions – across the world are connected and the importance of interdisciplinary partnerships. This is something that has been quite valuable moving on to the outside-of-university-world where many problems are often best solved with holistic approaches and in teams with people who have different educational and cultural backgrounds. I also took with me new perspectives and relationships (thanks to my intelligent and loving classmates from all over the world, along with a couple of my best friends).
If you want to learn more about the Human Security programme, then please like us on Facebook.