Governance of Migration and Diversity (GMD) Track
Name: Gabriela Anderson - South Africa
Education: Governance of Migration and Diversity (GMD) Track
I often advocate that experience should not be weighed in terms of the formal and institutional definition. Personally, my background sounds all over the place from starting off as a visual arts student at a specialized creative arts high school all the way to a volunteer for an organization that uses geospatial tools to map rural areas in Tanzania in order to help girls escape Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Recently, I both lived in and volunteered at a shelter for street children in Nepal as a support officer and I have worked as an English and Mathematics instructor in an organization that provides alternative learning methods. I even competed as a national figure skater and have been a coach in the sport too.
What major are you in and why did you choose this major?
The joke among our ISS batch 2021/2022 was that, in order to really understand the major, ISS had the migration students literally practising migration by always being on the move and travelling between different cities in the Netherlands to take part in different courses related to the Governance of Migration and Diversity (GMD), which happens to be the major title. This was one of the reasons I chose the major. While ISS will always remain home base, attending a variety of courses at different universities really adds another dimension to your learning and understanding of migration as well as your own perspective. Notably, my Bachelor’s degree was also in Development Studies but I really wanted to hone in on a specific area in development, and migration is one of the big, complex ones.
Why did you choose to study at ISS?
Initially, what first drew me towards ISS was the fact that I had the opportunity to study on a fully funded scholarship through the Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP). However, it was more than that. The specialized courses ISS has to offer and the diverse backgrounds of both the staff and your fellow peers is still, to this day, something of awe. Not to mention that you will be studying in The Hague, the capital of justice and peace! That is definitely one way to engage in a theory-meets-practice.
What are your future plans after you have graduated?
Thinking too far into the future often prevents living in the present and cherishing moments like these, and yes, even those stressful Master’s student ones! However, when I picture my future I see one of compassion and hard work in the field of human migration and displacement. I’m still torn between going directly into a career of fieldwork or continuing on with a PhD. There is still so much that we do not know. On the other hand, I feel that we know enough to be seeing a change on the ground, but this is (mostly) not the case. All things considered, working directly with people has always been my passion and something that I thrive in. I hope to look back onto this testimony and be proud of how far I’ve come and reflect on the change, not matter how small, I’ve made.
Would you recommend ISS to your peers in the future?
Of course! My favourite line is that “if you haven’t left with more questions than when you arrived, something’s not right”. If you want a place where independent thought is fostered and no stone is let unturned, then ISS is the place to be, but be prepared to be challenged and to grow immensely as an academic, and a person.