Talking to 4 Graduate Students At KDI School  

 

I caught up with 4 students from 4 different continents: Asia (Afghanistan), Africa (Nigeria), S. America (Ecuador), and North America (Bahamas)  for a school project. Here is how our interview went.

Please introduce yourself.

 Andrea:

I am Andrea Romo from Ecuador and currently enrolled for Master of Development Policy. My work experience spans two international organizations and a local government in Ecuador. The two international organizations are; International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Development Program( UNDP). Prior to joining KDIS, I  worked as an advisor to the city council of Ambato, my home city.

Ayantola:

I am Ayantola Alayande Maximus from Nigeria and now enrolled for Master of Public Policy.  My work has centered around Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). I have been in that space for the past 4 years, having volunteered for ONE Nigeria and then worked for Junior Achievement  Nigeria as a Project Officer.

Jazmin:

I am Jazmin Ageeb from the Bahamas.  I recently completed my undergraduate program in Canada; a degree in Political Science & International Development Studies. For the 4 years before coming to Korea, I  interned at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Bahamas over the summer breaks. I am currently enrolled for Master of Public Management.

Rawan:

I am Baryalai Rawan from Afghanistan. I  work at the President of Afghanistan’s Office as the Deputy Director in eGovernance. Before that, I worked with USAID and UNDP. I am now enrolled for Master of Public Policy.

  1. How did you get to hear about KDIS, and what motivated you to apply for one of its graduate programs?

Andrea:

I first heard about KDI School from a foundation  I was involved with, in Ecuador. Curious, I did more research and realized that their graduate programs did match my area of work. I  was working with the local government and therefore I felt that graduate-level knowledge in public policy affairs would help build my expertise. I went ahead and applied.

 

Ayantola:

I came to learn about the school from a KDIS Nigerian alumnus who is working for the African Leadership University in Rwanda. Since my specialty gravitated towards policy-making, having engaged most government officials and multiple stakeholders on policy issues, I felt it fit to enroll for a Master of Public Policy.

Jazmin:

I got to learn about the school courtesy of a lady I worked with at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The multicultural atmosphere that the school had, had a huge impression on me. It ignited in me a sense of longing. The longing to join the school. I loved that classes were taught in English and that scholarships were on offer.

Rawan:

I heard about the school from my brother who, in 2016 came to visit the school courtesy of an Asia Foundation visiting program. He was very impressed with what he saw and encouraged me to join the school some day. The advice and that of a former colleague at USAID – a KDIS alumnus, informed my decision.

Another challenge came from my  President. To help transform Afghanistan, he has always insisted we learn from the Korean model of economic development. Being a knowledge-sharing institution, KDIS is in no doubt the ideal place to acquire the needed knowledge to help bring about this transformation.

  1. How was your application process?

Andrea:

The information provided on the KDI School website helped. I  carefully went through the information, put all my documents together, and sent them. I  did put a lot of effort in my essay. It was no mean feat. I think the ample preparation did the magic. I was very excited when I eventually got in.

Ayantola:

Actually this was my second time applying. The first time I did  I was not successful. KDI School attracts the best from the best and so the application demands excellent input if one wants to get in. The process is pretty rigorous. Writing essays and coming up with a video was a tad bit tedious in my first application. But come the second I knew where to improve on. Thank God it all worked out. What I love about KDIS is that their application process is pretty clear. When you go through their website, you will find everything you need.

Jazmin:

I had not thought everything through as to whether I was to go ahead and apply and therefore half haphazardly sent my documents to Korea. But woe unto me, it was pretty expensive sending them from Canada to Korea. With that jolting realization, I went all in; gave the remaining part of the process the seriousness it needed. Before the Skype interview, I sought advice from someone in the training department at work. The interview went well later. The congratulatory email days later lifted the mood in our house.

Rawan:

I would say it is quite easy if you prepare well and give all the needed information. I did so and it all worked out. Getting admission was one of the best things to ever happen to me. Everyone around me was happy, from family to colleagues.

  1. What do you hope to achieve with your graduate degree once you finish school?

Andrea:

When I go back home, I would wish to contribute to shaping of  policy around the area of public sector innovation for upward mobility and economic advancement of people. I feel my country needs innovative policies to help people become less dependent on the government. I do not feel we have a viable atmosphere to foster innovation, investments, and the creation of start-ups. My country has a lot of potential and with the right policies, we can exploit all of that.  I would love to come in with that approach, applying some of the knowledge learned at KDI School.

Ayantola:

I have seen how Korea was able to move from a donor-recipient country to a donor giving nation, thanks to its efficient policies. Drawing from that, I would want to share the same policies at home or contribute to building effective policies that will help bring about the same transformation. I intend to use the knowledge and skills acquired to engage policymakers. I will continue with my civil society and non-profit activities but now in an empowered capacity.

Jazmin:

I think I might pursue schooling up to PhD before going home. In terms of contributing back home,  I hope to make our government more efficient and structural in the capacity I serve in. Working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I noticed some inefficiencies. Basics like proper filing, efficient automation of services, proper management of resources, et al were an issue. Such simple challenges stifle service delivery. I would hope to contribute to structural and systematic changes for improved efficiency in the public sector.

Rawan:

With knowledge and skills  from KDI School, policymakers can lighten their load of fixing fragile states. I am learning how we can build better policies to transform Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a country at war. Due to the recurrent conflicts, we have not had clear-functioning policies. I hope that other Afghan students abroad and  I will go back and help. I intend to re-join the government and help do exactly that.

This interview first featured on the KDI School  website.

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