What is International Development?
That’s the question I get asked all too often from my friends and family. I tell them I’m in INDEV at Waterloo and they get this quizzical look on their faces.
To be honest, it’s pretty much what it sounds like. We learn about development, its impact and practices and how it influences and shapes the world. But after being in the program for 3 years, I’ve gained more from simply being in the program than I thought I’d learn from any course.
I don’t think many programs require validation or explanation when you tell people what you’re studying. You’re in Math? I get it. You’re in Accounting and Financial Management? Makes sense. You’re in Biomedical Sciences? Pretty self-explanatory.
But International Development is…different. Sure it sounds like it should make sense and one should be able to piece it together just by its name but I think what I never realized until I stepped into this world was that the word “development” has a lot of weight to it and hidden meaning.
In INDEV, we’re constantly being challenged to re-imagine what development is and looks like to us and the world. What makes development valid? What is development? Is there one practice better than another? Is development necessary? Whose views are right? Who gets a say in development and who doesn’t?
But we don’t get answers to these questions. Honestly, we have more questions than answers as the years go by. A lot of us question what we’re even learning and what the point of sitting in a classroom is going to help us achieve. And that’s the beauty of this program, that there will never be just one answer. We won’t know what knowledge is going to be useful once we get out there, into the practising world of development. Development changes and evolves, and what we consider right in our own perspective now will be vastly different even a year from now.
INDEV strives to do something more than just teach us what has and hasn’t worked in the past and what we should do in the future. It’s about building a skill set which we can use as tools in the field whether we need them or not. Accounting, marketing, statistics and analytics, economics, system thinking and design, environmental assessment policies and organizational behaviour were not what I signed up for. It’s not even close to what I’m passionate about, want to learn or even thought I’d be learning in this program. But what’s the use of passion if you don’t have the right skills to build upon it. You can’t save the world on passion alone.
I love this program. Albeit, there are lots of kinks to work out still. I’ve definitely done my fair share of complaining. But it’s because we’re something new and different. And that amazes me each time I think about this program and how lucky I am to be a part of something as ridiculously awesome as INDEV.
INDEV is for the people who want to be challenged. It’s for people who don’t know quite yet what they want to do with their lives but they know they want to make a difference. It’s for people who care about others and their environment. It’s for the passionate, the reckless and the believers.
There’s so much left to learn and do, but I’m excited for the next chapter in the INDEV experience. I am ready to use what I’ve been taught to understand the world just a little bit better. I’m ready to go change the world.
What’s development look like to you? Leave a comment below!