Kate Knight Presenting Research at 10th Annual Human Development Conference at Univeristy of Notre Dame
In honor of the Human Development Conference’s ten year anniversary, this year’s theme was “Decades of Development: Contextualizing the Past, Envisioning the Future”. This conference afforded me my first real exposure to international development studies, a field that analyzes the dynamics between the developed and developing worlds and the debate within individual countries including, among other topics, poverty, inequality, health, education, gender, and environment.
While I felt proud to present my own work this weekend, it was even more of a privilege to meet and hear the ideas of other undergraduate students who had conducted research all around the globe. I was inspired by the trials and tribulations of my fellow peers, their hard-earned and enhanced cultural competencies, and the common desire we shared to learn more about the developing world. From the livelihood and dignity of squatters in Kathmandu, Nepal, to the socioeconomic status symbol of using Pampers diapers rather than nappies in Zanzibar, Tanzania, this weekend challenged me to brainstorm solutions to some of the world’s larger development obstacles. At the same time, hearing the stories of so many other student’s time abroad reminded me the importance of community engagement. I am proud to attend a higher education facility such as Rollins that is constantly reminding me of my position in the world. Though so many of us might think we are ready to act on these big ideas that we have, the first step should be deep integration within the communities we hope to serve alongside. The importance of listening and thinking before acting should not be undervalued.
Connections, connections, connections! Whether they were personal, intellectual, or emotional, connections have been the major theme of the Human Development Conference for me thus far. The first day of the conference started off with a meet- and-greet lunch for any students who had studied abroad and conducted research with SIT (the School for International Training). Within thirty minutes, I had met a handful of people who had led similar journeys to my own. From talking with two girls who had traveled to Jaipur, India and Zanzibar, Tanzania (both places where I’d lived or studied in the past) for their research, to meeting someone who had been on the same program that I had in Jordan, the conversation was fruitful and thought provoking. There is something inherently special about meeting people who share my wanderlust bug, who understand that untiring lust to see and learn more about the world. I met amazing students with amazing stories from all around the country, each of who had something new to teach me. I quickly came to appreciate SIT so much more, as it was affording me an endless network of future connections. What is more, my fellow SIT alum showed earnest support and interest in my presentation. They challenged me with stimulating questions on the Christian Zionist Lobby and the conflict in Israel-Palestine. Though my research topic can sometimes seem to controversial to discuss in a public forum, I felt extremely privileged to be surrounded by peers that encouraged uncomfortable conversations and healthy debate.