Spring 2015 – Pan-Africa Bureau at Global Affairs Canada (GAC): Katie North, BA Combined Honours African Studies & Film Studies.

katieMy decision to pursue a degree in African Studies has enhanced my academic experience at Carleton University tremendously. What began as an interest in the history of colonialism turned into a degree that exposed me to courses in politics, conflict, literature, music, popular culture and anthropology—all of which have enriched my understanding of the continent.

I decided to take the IAS Placement course in order to understand how my degree could be applied in the workplace.  I also wanted to gain valuable experience that would assist me in a job search upon graduation. The IAS was incredibly helpful and supportive and found me a placement that completely aligned with my interests, in the Pan-Africa Bureau at Global Affairs Canada (GAC).

During my placement, I was able to create a research portfolio that focused on the Mining Industry in Africa, an area I have been interested in since the beginning of my degree. Through my research, my supervisor was extremely supportive and provided insight and advice in every step of the process. While at my placement, I was able to attend many different events, meet people in the department, and ultimately enhance my understanding of Canada’s relationship with various African countries.

I am extremely grateful for the experience I gained through the IAS Placement. It confirmed my interests in pursuing a career in international affairs and allowed me to explore the field of African studies outside of the classroom, all of which would not have been possible without the assistance, guidance and support of the Institute of African Studies.

Fall 2014 – United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Olivia Dooley, M.A. International Affairs, African Studies (’15)

OLIVIAThe Institute of African Studies (IAS), and the placement with UNDP that it facilitated, provided the backbone of my graduate studies that I look back on fondly today. Critical thinking and lively discussion were fundamental components of each IAS class I had the opportunity to take, an aspect that fittingly reflects the high caliber of professors at the Institute. When I chose Carleton University, I chose it for IAS, and IAS did not disappoint.

When I learned of the open internship placement with the African Facility for Inclusive Markets – a UNDP program based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – I was thrilled for the opportunity, and anxious for the Institute’s blessing. I both wanted a break from coursework, and the chance to further apply the skills I was learning in a workplace setting. IAS’ then-director fully supported me to undertake the internship, and furthermore acted as a resource for guidance on administrative queries and all the (slightly more challenging) practical and moral quandaries that arise when working with an international organization (IO) abroad.

Through my internship, I gained experience in research, data management and programme implementation in an IO setting in sub-Saharan Africa, all skills that come in handy (in one way or another) in my current job. On top of facilitating significant professional and personal enrichment that can be difficult to come by as a student, the placement granted me lasting memories and personal connections that I maintain to this day. The experience, thanks to the IAS, was the best part of my Master’s degree, which itself was made more challenging, more thoughtful, and more rewarding by my involvement with IAS.

Summer 2013- Me to We(Kenya); Jodi York, BA Combined Honours in African Studies and History

jodiThe African Studies Placement Course provides a very unique and hands on learning experience. It allows you to step out of the classroom and work with an organization that engages with Africa in some way.

In the summer of 2013 ,I was fortunate enough to spend six weeks working as a Junior Leadership Facilitator with Me to We in Kenya. Me to We is an innovative social enterprise that offers international service learning experiences in partnership with Free the Children, an international charity and educational partner.

During my placement with Me to We, I had the opportunity to facilitate two separate groups of youth from Canada and the US on three-week trips to rural Kenya. I was able to learn how an international volunteer experience is executed, and work in partnership with an international charity and gain a deeper understanding of their development model and how it is implemented.

Each evening when we lead our lessons and leadership modules, I was able to incorporate the knowledge I have gained through my African Studies major and further the discussion and deepen thoughts. I gained invaluable skills such as mentorship and public speaking and was able to engage with and further my knowledge of Kenya and the language of Kiswahili. Having studied Swahili for two years prior during my African Studies degree, I was able to communicate with community members on a more personal level and explore the first hand impacts of Free the Children’s development model.

I am incredibly grateful to have had this experience and to have enhanced my knowledge about Me to We, and Free the Children and their projects within rural Kenya. I am very grateful for the Institute of African Studies for being so supportive throughout the course and giving me the opportunity to have an engaging, diverse, hands on learning experience.

Winter 2010 – Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Ottawa); Megan Malone (2011 alumnus), BA Combined Honours in African Studies & Political Science

My experience with the Institute of African Studies (IAS) at Carleton has been one that I am truly grateful for. InGraduate Students Photo pursuing a Major in African Studies at Carleton, the classes have opened my mind to the diversity in the subjects related to the study of this wonderful continent. Opportunities to study courses on subjects such as war in Africa, the history of Africa, African literatures, music, politics, etc., were what drew me to this program; and the faculty and staff, with their expertise on Africa and wonderful personalities, are what kept me there.

Despite only arriving at Carleton at the start of my third year of university, the African Studies program has already opened several doors for me. I was able to land a summer job at the Africa Bureau in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) through the African Studies Course Placement option, which has now evolved into a part-time job throughout my last year of undergraduate studies at Carleton.

In addition, I have been privileged in having the opportunity to assist with IAS Launch Conference in October 2009, where I had the honour to meet and listen to the words of the inspiring Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes. Furthermore, I have been able to take part in the development of the Institute of African Studies Student Association (IASSA), an initiative in which myself and a fellow African Studies student agreed to take on with the support of the IAS.

The IAS was also very supportive of a volunteer trip I organized for the month of May 2010, by which I took a small group of students from Carleton University and the University of Ottawa to volunteer at orphanages in Ghana. All in all, in looking back on everything I’ve experienced and achieved in just one year in the program, I can, without hesitation, say that this program has already helped me a great deal in preparing me for a successful future in the field of Africa, and I look forward to the opportunities it continues to bring me during my last year at Carleton, and in the future.

Winter 2010 – CUSO-VSO (Ottawa); Jarratt Best (2010 alumni), BA Psychology, minor African Studies
The Institute of African studies at Carleton does more than provide a degree in African studies. Their approach Photo of Jarratt Bestpresents students with a unique and rewarding experience from the expansion of knowledge to partnership in important initiatives. Through my placement at CUSO-VSO, I learned about international volunteer services and helped to build methods of Diaspora interaction.

My work as an intern and my education through the Institute of African studies provided me with the opportunity of employment through CUSO-VSO as a Diaspora Marketing, Communication, and Recruitment Consultant. There are departments and programs that talk about helping, and then there are those such as African Studies, who actually do help.

Through their support of ComeUNITY, a non-profit youth organization, and Rise & Flow, an education through music program for underprivileged youth, the Institute of African Studies proves Carleton can be “Anything but Textbook”.

Fall 2010 – Peace Matunda School and Orphanage (Tanzania); Kayleigh Hortop, B.Comm, minor in Economics
Peace Matunda School and Orphanage is a project started in 2000 to provide orphans and children living in difficult Photo of Kayleigh Hortopconditions with basic education, proper housing, adequate health care and nutrition along with daily necessities to ensure them a better quality of life and prosperous future. Peace Matunda is located in Kimundo village, Tanzania, Africa.

The school was established for the benefit of local children and orphans who could not otherwise afford to attend public schools. There are currently approximately 160 students enrolled, aged 3-11, and the school continues to grow. Projects currently underway include the construction of a new home for the children at the orphanage and the conversion of the old dorm rooms into new classrooms.

Once these projects are completed the school will have Baby Class, Kindergarten and Standards 1 through 4. Further goals to expand will involve building 3 new classrooms for Standards 5 to 7 to complete the construction of a full elementary school. The student’s families are asking to contribute what they can for their child’s education in order to cover operational expenses. However, if the families are unable to do so the child’s education is funded through sponsorships, donations, and income generated from the Peace Matunda volunteer program.  See video of Peace Matunda by Kayleigh Hortop here.

Summer 2011 – Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division (South Africa); Heather McAlister, BA Combined Honours in African Studies & Political Science
I was very fortunate to have a placement while I was in South Africa with the Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD) which is the South African branch of UNAIDS.  I wrote a policy analysis (along with my friend Khadija who also did the placement) Desk at HEARDfor Professor Alan Whiteside about an article him and Justin Parkhurst had written in response to the astronomically high HIV prevalence in Southern Africa.

When people first become infected with HIV, they pass through something called the acute infection period in which they will have a lot of the HIV virus in their system, but they will test negative for HIV because their bodies have not started to produce antibodies.  Parkhurst and Whiteside said that the country needs to decrease its overall viral load by trying to get as many people as possible to pass through this acute infection period without spreading the virus, so they suggested a month of safe sex/no sex.

As you can imagine, this was a very controversial idea, especially in a culture where polygamy and multiple concurrent sexual partners is a generally accepted social norm.  Khadija and I were responsible for analyzing how the media had responded to this article and subsequently looking into how people had responded to the media.  It was a really interesting experience where I learned a great deal.  We also were fortunate to network with a lot of very intelligent people and gain an extra half credit for our efforts.  It was amazing to be immersed in such an academically-focused workspace and to be surrounded by people who care greatly about affecting the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Southern Africa.

Fall 2011 – Sahan Relief (Ottawa); Mahamoud Hashi Hassan, BA Criminology, minor in African Studies
My experience with the Institute of African Studies placement at Sahan Relief has been an amazing one that I am truly thankful for. Over the four years I spent at Carleton University, the African studies classes and placement are by far some of my best experiences. The IAS is unique because the programs they offer cut across many different disciplines that you would not have taken if it was not for the IAS.

When I approached the IAS about the placement opportunity they had, I was surprised how supportive and helpful they were, something that sometimes is over-looked. I wanted to do my placement at a location that was not on their list, but they afforded me the leniency to navigate and create my location and tasks. This gave me the confidence to do a lot of the things I was able to be part of and accomplish. Since starting my placement for IAS at Sahan, I was able to connect with many interesting individuals, and organizations that are pivotal to my future success. Also, it motivated me, along with other students from Carleton to create clubs and society group whose aim would be to create awareness and raise funds for Sahan Relief in the future.

Since that time, the club has started discussions on planning a small trip with the support of Sahan and other organizations. If plausible the trip would be for the summer of 2012 and would involve doing humanitarian work and assessment in Somalia. In summary, IAS made a lot of different opportunities and experiences possible for me in my 4 years at Carleton. Looking back on my semester as a placement student for IAS, I can confidently say that this program is only going to get stronger with more student enrollment and recognized success. All in all I am indebted to IAS for the opportunity, and support it has provided me.

Fall 2011 – South African High Commission; Sagal Khandid, BA Combined Honours African Studies & Political Science
My experience with the Institute of African Studies has provided me with many opportunities. As a student pursing a major in African Studies at Carleton University, I am exposed to many different types of classes that are required in my program. These classes ranging from African poetry, politics, culture and history, have played a huge part in helping me to understand Africa’s position in the contemporary world and have illustrated the color and diversity of the continent.  We are often bombarded with misconceptions about Africa, and my academic studies at Carleton University have effectively erased these past conceived notions I previously held.

Aside from my studies, the Institute of African Studies, has been given a plethora of opportunities. For one I am an active member of the Institute of African Studies Student Association. This group is responsible for fundraising for a number of different organizations, such as the Invisible Children, which seeks to eradicate the practice of recruiting children as soldiers. As a member I have made some lasting friendships and met others who share common interests with me. Furthermore, I have been very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to have completed a placement at the South African High Commission.

As an intern, I was responsible for writing a number of briefing reports that dealt with topics that ranged from South African politics to the history of the country. I also had the opportunity to attend meetings and film screenings for films that pertained to South Africa. All in all, I have gained valuable experience in the diplomatic area. Needless to say, as an African studies student, my academics, coupled with my experience at the South African High Commission and my participation with IASSA (Institute of African Studies Students Association) have increased my interest in making a global difference and to help those who are less fortunate.

To put it more plainly, this degree has fostered my professional and academic goals, but more importantly has helped me refine and refocus my beliefs, feelings and attitude about the world we live in. It is for all the reasons above that I am indebted to the Institute of African Studies.

Winter 2012 – Farm Radio International; Melanie Karalis, Bachelor of Journalism, High Honours with Minors in African Studies and History
I chose to minor in African Studies while completing my Bachelor of Journalism at Carleton University for the opportunity to explore further a continent often mentioned in the media without being understood. From history and diaspora studies to anthropology and literature, the Institute of African Studies offers an interdisciplinary approach that compliments any major.   Photo of Melanie Karalis

My minor in African Studies complimented my journalism degree immensely – I was able to organize a placement course with Farm Radio International, a non-profit organization that supports small-holder farmers in Africa through radio broadcasting. For four months, I assisted with research about African radio stations’ agricultural programs while gaining credit for my African Studies minor.

After four years of learning about Africa, I’m finally here. Through Carleton University’s Centre for Media and Transitional Societies, I was awarded an international fellowship to report in Africa. I am on attachment to Radio Peace, a community radio station I researched during my placement with Farm Radio International.  I am here from October to December 2012. Farm Radio Ghana has organized my stay and I have also been contributing to their work here (read my blog from my time in Ghana). My studies through the Institute of African Studies paved the way for this incredible opportunity and I encourage anyone with a sense of discovery to take a class.