EUID on the importance of diversity to International Development

Being part of the International Development Society (EUID), I am often asked: “International development? So what exactly do you do?” and: “Can you get me an internship with Amnesty International?”

These are questions that I posed myself before venturing into knowing more. Questions that were then satisfactorily answered and an interest generated.

Constitutionally, the aim of the society is to ‘encourage open and critical debate of global development issues, in order to enhance current understanding.’ The gap between academic studies and non-academic fora are bridged through engagement in current development issues outside of the cumbersome four walls of a classroom.

The challenge, however, lies in creating this engagement. Most of us don’t want to go to another lecture, no matter how interesting it is, after we’ve managed to drag ourselves to our course lectures for the day. Panel discussions were thus introduced, by the society,  to further engagement and allow everyone present in the room to contribute, learn, and imbibe a multitude of different perspectives.

One of my favourite talks hosted by EUID last semester was one about the Indian-Pakistan diaspora and how the Great South Asian war impacted upon Pakistan. It was refreshing as previously, being an Indian, I was exposed to literature that merely surrounded the Indian context. This talk, however, peppered with pertinent contributions by students from Pakistan created a holistic conversation that I’m only too happy to engage in again.

Another important issue tackled by the society last semester was food waste and sustainable eating habits. We are a generation that is increasingly conscious of our choices and the impact it has on the planet.

While Instagramming our travels, we lament our carbon footprint. We chronicle our vegan diets in an ode to Mother Earth. It is now cool to care. Last semester, we took the events to a different level of interaction with the Missing Maps initiative.

An open collaborative project where you can help to map the areas where humanitarian organizations are trying to supply aid by using the satellite image systems to label roads, houses and important landmarks. This was in November when the Cyclone Ganja was wreaking havoc in the Southern parts of India. We mapped together roads in an effort not just helpful to authorities trying to reach the more isolated parts of Tamil Nadu in South India- but tracing those lines was weirdly cathartic in a sense that filled each of us with calm. It was something I carried home that day and continued to do throughout the week labelling it ‘constructive procrastination.’ I think that is the very essence of what International Development is. It is educating ourselves a little more, wanting to help a little bit more, and ultimately just caring a little bit more. It is taking responsibility of what we’ve done to the planet, of the internalized biases that we carry with us, and knowing that none of that has to be that way if don’t want it to be.

Above all, I think it is about coming together and knowing that International Development is a collective effort, one that requires the vested interests of every member of the global community.

The Syrian Supper hosted in 2016 by EUID in partnership with STAR and KitchenRituals introduced cooking workshops and language classes in an effort to welcome refugees and to help them feel at home by celebrating their culture and cuisine.

Being part of EUID has contributed to my university experience by allowing me to truly imbibe its constitutional values of encouraging, participating and even enjoying discourse with multiple perspectives. I think that I’m a more tolerant individual now.

The environment within the society too was welcoming and congenial, there was no sense of alienation and everyone was always eager to help one another out.

Above all, there is always a sense of acknowledgement within the society that we are all constantly learning, and constantly evolving and this creative process serves as its crux.

At the end of the day, EUID stands for diversity of thought, and uses this diversity to fuel the dynamic narrative of  International Development.

 

Image: geralt via Pixabay

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The Student Newspaper 2016