From Scotland to Sri Lanka: Challenges Worldwide challenging me

Thinking back on the Challenges Worldwide adventure so far, which will obviously be the most exciting part of the whole thing, feels like a lifetime ago. All geosciences Masters students were invited to go to the introductory talk by Kirsty McMahon of Challenges Worldwide, a broker for universities and NGOs in finding MSc dissertation projects, way back in the first semester of the intense 1-year course. The room was filled with people from more masters courses than I knew existed! All there looking to find more information on the possibility of a work based research project, at this stage the idea of dissertations were miles away, but still real enough to fill that room.

The process involved an application form that needed to be the three little bears of detail; specific and focused enough to create a project out of, but flexible and open enough to not become too niche and limit your chances. I went for a marine project, something they’d never done before, I definitely thought I’d gone too niche. However, low and behold I was offered 1 of the 8 interview spots in the New Year.

Come that day we all looked a mixed of excited and confused at what the interview would bring. It began with an hour long group interview, which was a bit of a new experience for me, followed by a 1 hour solo interview, but definitely felt more like a chat with Kirsty and Olivia’s smiling faces looking back at you. Then it became a lot more real when the confirmation email offering a place came through. Five of us were going to be found projects, working with NGOs anywhere between Malawi and Papua New Guinea. Then we waited; Kirsty was busy fulfilling her part of the bargain and frantically called/ emailed/ skyped a plethora of host institutions for each of us.

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Then 1 by 1 we got offered out placements, and it really became real. Rosie to Cambodia, to study mangroves, Tom to Ghana to study solar home systems, Vivian to Zambia to study relations with China, Lyndsey to Kenya to study water sanitation and I’m off to Sri Lanka to look at conflicts in fishing gear and policies.

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