Study Governance and Democracy 2006-07
Country of origin Uganda
Current occupation Head of Department for Political Affairs, East African Community
What made your time at ISS special? Studying amidst life full of fun, student-centred facilities in a multi-cultural environment within the beautiful city of Den Haag - I did not feel the stress of postgraduate studies at ISS!
What is your most memorable moment at ISS? 14th December 2007, at the graduation ceremony. My very close friend and course mate, Anja de Vries broke down in tears for not being among the top three best students. It was at this moment that I realized time was up and that I needed to go back home to Uganda. That day we celebrated with tears of joy for successfully completing the programme but also with tears of sadness for fact that friends had to physically part ways!
What does ISS mean to you now? ISS transformed my entire life! I am a member of a global community of professionals. I am not a stranger in any city in the world – I will always find an ISS alumnus there to connect with. My world view is totally different form my other peers back home.
Study Diploma in Public Administration in 1965 Seems like such a short time ago!
Country of origin Hong Kong
Current occupation I am currently a writer. My latest publication, Hong Kong Confidential: Life as a Subversive, was published in March by Blacksmith Books. It is the third volume of my family memoirs and deals with my work in the Hong Kong Government after I left The Hague.
What made your time at ISS special? ISS was special for me because I was able to meet other civil servants from other countries all struggling with our different sets of problems.
Your most memorable moment? My most memorable moments at ISS were the friendships I made with fellow students and with Dutch people outside.
What does ISS mean to you now? What ISS means to me is the appreciation that many idealistic civil servants are trying to make the world a better place in spite of bad politicians!
Study Agriculture and Rural Development 1997-98
Country of origin India
Current occupation Independent development consultant – I do research on economic policies and carry out editing work for grassroots and emerging organizations.
What made your time at ISS special? One, the ISS was truly global with a comprehensive North-South representation. Two, the ISS faulty, particularly for ARD at that time, was arguably the world’s finest in its expertise. Three, a generous scholarship with extensive facilities made the time quite comfortable, and, most importantly, I will always have friends all over the world!
What is your most memorable moment at ISS? After the Scholas elections in 1997, a new post came up. The ISS administration had formed a teaching committee and they wanted a student representative on it. The committee was mandated to look, among other things, into issues of ISS autonomy vis-à-vis the other institutions in the Dutch university system. The antecedent discourse of the ISS merger with Erasmus University was already running then - almost two decades earlier! Of course, no one then knew it would be Erasmus. A special election was held to select the student representative. I stood and won. The most memorable aspect of this exercise, besides learning about the larger issues around ISS administration, was the fact that this particular election result was remarkable for overlooking the prefered candidate from the same country or region.
What does ISS mean to you now? ISS continues to have a significant place in my professional and personal life. Let me try to see if I can put my fingers on a few key points of my experience over the last couple of years.
I understand the discourse on development. At a general level this gives me an edge in terms of understanding and related communication. In practical terms it has meant that, post ISS, most of my job interviews have been successful. And with some amazing coincidences to add.
Ranjit Dwivedi, a brilliant former PhD scholar, was a friend and we would always discuss his thesis intensively even as we were playing rounds of pool. In a few interviews I gave after coming back to India, the questions would invariably hinge on the topic of his doctoral thesis and I would speak like an expert!
ISS has turned out to be a mental map (app) for explaining and acting for real time political and policy views. It is a matter of great satisfaction to see change happen, even if incremental. ISS learning is an essential if not directly visible aspect of this ‘change effecting’ dynamic.
ISS has a sentimental value for me even professionally. Over the years my work has taken me across many countries and I have met my former classmates – can I put my fingers on a few? An assignment to look into the national budget of Cambodia took me to Phnom Penh and there I meet my classmate who was heading the CIDA - the Canadian International Development Agency.
Then in Florence, Italy while visiting UNICEF research centre I met another ISSer, a Florentine, who runs a consulting firm.
And another in Buenos Aires…and many more! …and all these former friends were not linked to the places I was visiting. Unsurprisingly those assignments are the most memorable for me. Very recently I spent a day here in New Delhi, with a visiting Costa Rican batch mate who is now a Director in a UN agency in Rome. A most thrilling day!
I have found a good work-life balance and time for my family. I must share that in my present avatar of independent consultant, my most recent assignment was offered by and carried out for an alumnus - senior by a few years at ISS! You are trusted by the alumni community and many of them are well placed now. That makes a ‘privileged’ difference!
Study Social Policy for Development, Specialization in Children and Youth Studies 2013
Country of origin Jordan
Current occupation Head of Programs Development at Tech Tribes/ Social Innovation Consultant
What made your time at ISS special? I can’t remember ISS without smiling. My experience there was intense, both on the academic and personal fronts. The friendships I developed during my Masters are priceless. Other than providing good and fun company as well as global exposure, my friendships allowed me to build a base of contacts all over the world that I know share my passion, and intellect. Apart from the top-notch education and learning experiences, the beer at the Butterfly Bar made gloomy evenings way more tolerable.
What is your most memorable moment at ISS? My most memorable moment was arriving at the airport and looking for the assembly point. When I arrived I was welcomed by old batch students. Feeling all overwhelmed, one realizes that an initiative like this is all about community. I can’t imagine anyone being left out at ISS, the place is truly about building communities and quality experiences. I remember the night I submitted my final MA thesis, I pushed the submit button with a shaky hand, opened the window to my dorm room and breathed in a fresh swipe of air. I knew at the time I wasn’t the same person who arrived at the airport a year and a half ago; I was way stronger, way more capable, yet way more humbled.
What does ISS mean to you now? ISS represents a phase in my life in which my eyes were forced to open to see issues from various angles and perspectives. It is a time where my convictions were tested and my horizons stretched. I try to keep this outlook with me all the time; it’s what I believe unites ISS students everywhere