From theory to practice – my first time in Africa
Landing in Africa for the very first time after 3 years of writing, discussing and arguing about international development is interesting but challenging at the same time.
Before I enrolled at university, I wandered how student life would prepare me for the working world. When I met business school students, some of which are also doing a degree in entrepreneurship, I was glad to gain an insight into their way of thinking but surprised to find out that their programme of study did not include a practical element. Why do UK universities so often overlook the importance of applying academic work in a real-life context?
I remember sitting in the campus restaurant and wondering why the university would sub-contract the management of on-site facilities to external organisations, and not provide business students with the chance to test their new skills in a competitive environment. Are they not supposed to be developing and improving their approach to running such small enterprises?
While enjoying criticising other university departments, I thought about my own studies and the lack of practical work. How can one study for 3 years in development without visiting a developing country or contributing to development projects? Thanks to Northampton University I have the opportunity change this situation.
Coming to Nakuru, Kenya, and getting direct experience of the roads, shops, food and children after reading so many books, journals and reports is a thought provoking moment for me. There is a question that rises in any visitor to the continent “How can I have a positive impact?” But for me this question hits me even harder “How can I, as a graduate of Economics and International Development, have a positive impact?” How might my academic understanding of macro topics, such as poverty, the environment, education and health, help me with the Balloon Kenya programme developing small scale social enterprises here in Nakuru?
In the next few blogs, while discussing some of the interesting topics that come up during my work in Kenya, I will also write about how my university studies have prepared me for front-line work in development.
I hope you will follow me as I embark on this journey.