3 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Enrolled Into International Development


Before I tell you more, let me give you a little back story. I started my university career in Arts and Business, majoring in Social Development Studies. The events up to that point of my life seemed to point me in that direction. I was a keener who set myself up for the life I thought I wanted to have.

I spent a few summers volunteering with UrbanPromise Toronto and Toronto City Missions during high school. Both of these organizations aim to provide spiritual, social and educational development or children, youth and families living in Toronto Community Housing. Bam. Social Development Studies.

I also spent a huge chunk of time with Camp Trillium where I spent my last summer of highschool and my first summer of university working there. Camp Trillium is an oncology camp that exists to provide a normalizing recreational experience for children and families who’ve experienced childhood cancer. (I highly recommend checking them if you want more information, know someone who would be interested or if you’re interested in volunteering with them.) Bam. Social Development Studies. Again.

So naturally, when I switched my program from Arts and Business to International Development, my life was bound to change. Without further ado, here are the three most valuable lessons that have shaped me since switching my program to International Development.

1. International Development will make you age a little bit faster
And no, I’m not talking about grey hairs and crows feet. What I’m talking about is media and culture. Goodbye to the days of buying expensive clothes, eating junk food and watching random TV Shows. Well, not entirely. While I still indulge from time to time, I found that I’ve started to try to be more sustainable with my choices and opting for the more “educational” TV alternative. Let me rephrase. The day you choose to watch a documentary or a TedTalk over a TV show about a mysterious person who causes terror and mayhem to a group of 4 “high school” girls (I’m talking about you, Pretty Little Liars), is the day you grow up. You won’t anticipate that day, it’ll just come.

2. International development will turn your life upside down
Growing up, I always pictured myself doing to what I knew: music, business or education. It wasn’t until last year when it struck me. I never thought I’d ever admit to myself that I would be interested in a field that focuses on international waste management systems . Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to any aspect of it but I always saw myself living out my life with a “Western” career. Nowadays, I’m inspired about what has developed from the waste management sector in the global South, from Cairo’s informal waste pickers, the Zabbaleen, to Manila’s waste scavengers in an integrated network in Quezon City. I guess it’s true what they say, another man’s trash is another man’s treasure

3. International development will make you uncomfortable
Along with turning your life upside down, International Development will make you uncomfortable. Last term, I took Culture and Ethics with the brilliant Dr. Serilis. She teaches the kind of class that makes you think about the world differently. She challenged us to think outside of our Western bubble and to think of people as people instead of them as objects or subjects. But the biggest thing that I took from her class is the cruel and unsettling reality that comfort is our great enemy to progress. In the words of Dr. Seirlis (or paraphrasing her, rather), “don’t be confined to society’s teleological narrative. Force yourself to think differently. Question the familiar”

So that’s what this blog is about. It’s my attempt to remain inspired by everything that’s around me, but at the same time, to be conscious enough to see past the coordinates of our system.

This calls for some “untamed” conversations.


4 thoughts on “3 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Enrolled Into International Development

  1. megwilliams6 January 18, 2015 / 9:23 pm

    The extent to which I can relate to everything you’ve summed up about indev here is amazing. From feeling guilty to indulging in binge watching an entire season of Friends (don’t judge, we all do it) to finding it difficult to look at the world optimistically while knowing so much hardship is a definite side effect of this educational path.

    But by no means do I use the term “side effects” negatively. Learning to “question the familiar” has been one of my most valued lessons to date and a lesson that I will carry with me wherever I go. And I can only imagine the lessons we’ll continue to learn the further in we go…I think we can all agree we’ve entered ourselves whole heartily into a life of enlightenment at the expense of being comfortable.


  2. Nathan Henderson February 9, 2015 / 11:36 am

    So good 🙂

    You had one line that really stuck out to me: comfort is our greatest enemy to progress. Whether it’s in development or anywhere else, I think that speaks true in every circumstance.

    Liked by 1 person

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