Where are they now?

Martin Dacles

Study programme MA in Development Studies, Major in Agrarian, Food and Environment Studies with specialization in Environment and Sustainable Development.

Year of graduation 2019

Country of origin Philippines

Current occupation Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Coordinator for Middle East with the French Red Cross.

What made your time at ISS special? The fact that you get the opportunity to learn about the world through the different cultures and lived experiences of your colleagues in the institute. Stories that somehow shape and inspire us to continue the good fight; that in almost every corner of the world, someone is still fighting the good fight.

What is your most memorable moment at ISS? I will never forget the countless events we organized as a community – the protests we joined, the parties we celebrated and the workshops we hosted. And who could forget one of the best and biggest events in the programme – the ISS International Day, showcasing snippets of the world and diverse cultures through performances and cuisines. Priceless!

What does ISS mean to you now? ISS is my home away from home. The institute not only provided me with the technical grips and handles on critical development studies, but also an entire community of practitioners, scholars and activists who believe in social justice. 

Stella Vasquez

Study programme National Development 

Year of graduation 1972

Country of origin Colombia

Current occupation Retired

What made your time at ISS special? I found the Dutch to be a very and singular culture. It is a small country but is packed with flowers, windmills, cheeses, Amsterdam canaIs and the greatest art of the world.

What is your most memorable moment at ISS? Every moment was great. This tiny nation has a huge influence in the world and every day at ISS surprised me in every sense. The best thing about ISS was meeting friends from all over the world and sharing such a valuable part of my existence with them.

What does ISS mean to you now? I gained greater understanding and admiration, not only of the Dutch but also of other people and their culture. My experience expanded my academic horizons, teaching me new languages and skills, and building my confidence and resilience.

The Netherlands is a country partly below sea level that created the engineering delta project. It is a country with great agricultural development that has much to teach to the word in relation to all the challenges of global warming. 

Swati Rao

Study programme Mundus MA in Public Policy

Year of graduation 2017

Country of origin India

What made your time at ISS special? All the amazing people I met from all over the globe. It was my first time living outside India, so being in such a multicultural environment gave me opportunities for immense personal and professional growth.

What is your most memorable moment at ISS? International Day remains my favourite memory to date. Sharing my culture and food with so many people and learning about theirs was quite an experience.

What does ISS mean to you now? My window to the world.

Leonel Roberto Rodríguez Casasbuenas

Study programme Social Policy and Master in Social Sciences

Year of graduation  1972 and 1973

Country of origin Colombia

Current occupation I am retired now. After ISS, I taught at universities in Colombia and Brazil. Later, I worked for 25 years with the UN Agency for Refugees - UNHCR - mainly in Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, El Salvador, Guatemala, Rwanda, USA, Mexico and Cuba: diverse experiences of conflictive expulsion/ return of refugees/ displaced people, as well supporting positive local integration programmes.

What made your time at ISS special? Being immersed in a rich cultural and academic interchanging context, enjoying favourable conditions for studying such as comfortable infrastructure, an adequate number of competent professors, study trips abroad.

What is your most memorable moment at ISS? A month-long field research visit to Yugoslavia to assess the ‘self-management’ system of participation of different productive sectors – independent and cooperative peasants, factory workers, specialized technicians, planners, bureaucratic directors, etc - in implementing socioeconomic state policies. 

What does ISS mean to you now? 

  • Excellent friends. We hope to celebrate our 50th ISS anniversary. All colleagues concerned are welcome!
  • Admiration for this research and debating centre highly committed to today´s global problems: democracy, environment, social justice, human rights.
  • Finally, satisfaction with its deserved international recognition.

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