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  • Studying in the UK opened my eyes to how society could do more for itself

    Published on March 15, 2021

    By – Jalpa Sukhanandi, M.Sc. in Development and Human Right, Swansea University UK

    The inspiration

    I come from the small town of Veraval in Gujarat. With such small beginnings, I was always inclined to do something for people who were struggling in life. Growing up I set myself the goal to help the less fortunate once I got into a job and after completing my graduation, I joined a NGO to do just that. Further, I went on to complete a post graduate diploma in Management of NGOs and Livelihood from Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, Ahmedabad. This helped me do more, but eventually I realised that I also needed to pursue a Masters’ degree.

    Why I chose the UK

    Considering my vocation, I realised that there were some great programmes for me at foreign universities but considering my financial situation I could never have imagined of studying abroad. However, during my research I realised that the UK offered a host of scholarship programmes for students from India and so I thought of applying. Eventually, I was able to secure the Commonwealth Scholarship and pursue an M.Sc. in Development and Human Right from the Swansea University in the UK.

    Another important reason why I chose to study in the UK was the availability of a programme that would allow me to understand human rights in a larger perspective and not just in the legal terms. My university offered the course as a part of its cultural and political department which is exactly what I was looking for.

    The experience

    My experience of studying the UK was very nice. While the culture, weather and of course, geography were starkly different to where I came from, the warm support and counselling that I received from my faculty at the university really helped me find my footing as a foreign student. My mentor really helped me cope with issues like homesickness and motivated me to keep on going with my research and fulfil my scholastic tasks and goals.

    The programme also featured a community for all the students coming from all across the world and as part of the community students shared the issues and challenges faced by them across various nations of the world. This gave me a window into how different people, nations and NGOs were contributing to the development sector and bringing change. All that I learned in the classroom or from my peers really gave me a new perspective and opened my mind to how one could change the world.

    The impact

    Right after my college I started working with Anandi, a community based organisation, that supported women from lower income groups to get access to micro finance, health and education. This experience fuelled my drive to learn and do more for society. That is when I went to the UK. 

    After finishing the course, I came back to India and started working with an organisation called Saath Charitable Trust, on urban development and governance issues. We helped slum dwellers to get access to housing and other basic necessities like water, electricity, identification documents and more. Along with my organisation, I also helped rehabilitate slum dwellers in Ahmedabad, who were being displaced due to the commencement of a metro rail project, in proper housing structures with availability of all the basic things.

    Right now, I am working with DATRI Blood Stem Cell Donor Registry to helping cancer patients and other with severe blood disorders to find their genetically matched stem cell donors. I am part of the organisations’ leadership team and also hold the office of the Regional Head – Gujarat and Rajasthan, while the organisation is based out of Chennai. I lead a team that is working on voluntary donor recruitment and also creating awareness. Besides this I also look into operations and strategic management as a part of my job.

    Final word

    My education in the UK really opened my eyes to so much more we as a society could do to help those in need.  The UK truly is a land of opportunity for students who really want to make a difference in the world.