They say that once you go to Africa, a part of you deep down inside never really leaves-even after you have travelled back home and continue on with your daily life. It’s as if your heart has finally found its home. I remember the exact moment when I realized that this had happened to me. It was in Uganda in 2010, and I was driving away from the children’s home I had been volunteering with for the past two months to head to the airport to fly home. I was sad yes, but not devastated because I knew at that moment that I would be back. Africa had captured my heart and I felt like I was where I truly belonged.
My name is Katie Durvin and I am in my final semester of my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Global Studies and Economics at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, British Columbia. Ever since I first became involved with WUSC in 2008, I have dreamt of going on an internship with this organization. I was one of the founding members of the WUSC Local Committee at my university and under my leadership as Co-Chair we established our first student levy on campus, sponsored four students in just three years and raised the profile of WUSC and the SRP in the community through strong media engagement. This summer I was selected by WUSC as one of their top five nominees for the WISE Learner’s Voice Conference in Qatar.
Working with our sponsored students and resettling them into their new lives in Canada has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. Now I have the incredible opportunity to return to Africa and to serve WUSC working with the sponsored students before they come to Canada. From May 8th to August 31st I will be interning as WUSC’s SRP Program Assistant in the Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi.
As Program Assistant, I will be working with sponsored students facilitating pre-departure training, conducting Canadian cultural orientation workshops, and coordinating immigration, medical, and police interviews and clearances. I will be monitoring the remedial and leadership sessions for the Academic and Leadership Project and assisting with language and computer training. It will be a very exciting time to be in the camp as all the preparations for departure will be underway and I will be able to say goodbye to the students as they set off for their new chapter of their lives in Canada. I know this will be very hard work and there will be times where I will have to dig deep, but I am prepared, committed, and extremely passionate. I cannot wait.
I am incredibly lucky to be able to go to university, have a permanent roof over my head, and live in a peaceful country that respects my human rights. For me, it is clear that my passion and duty in life is to empower others that for whatever reason have not been able to have these same experiences and to help them realize their highest potential.
I will be pursuing a Master’s degree in refugee rights/forced migration or a law degree in international human rights law with a focus on refugees. My career goal is to work in international development for WUSC, U.N., CIDA or Right to Play, specializing in refugees and internally displaced peoples and focusing on gender empowerment, access to education, and sport as a tool for development and peace.
My involvement with WUSC has truly been the best part of my university career and it is such an honour to represent this organization and serve its partners in Malawi.