Meet our new interns!! Their Odyssey with SITE4Society – Part 1

Rita Bakunda and Jairaj Gopalakrishnan are our new SITE4Society interns! They are  just completing their Bachelor at Maastricht University, at the School of Business and Economics.
How did this all happen? We asked them for their story, and here is what they said…

Rita:
“Hi! I’m Rita. Born and raised in Rwanda, I attended my last 2 years of High School in Nairobi where I met an enthusiastic friend who wanted to attend Maastricht University. Through her, I heard about Maastricht University and applied for the economics course. Having done economics in high school and having lots of fun and success, it left me inspired to take the course. Maastricht University has a very good program with a unique Problem Based Learning system which I applied for. That led to living in this beautiful city of Maastricht.”

Jay: 
“Hello! I am an Indian by origin but was born and raised in Dubai. During my time in school, the only subject that ever seemed of any interest to me was Economics. So, in my mind, I decided that a bachelor’s in economics would be the most fun. I knew I wanted to experience life in a completely different environment than the one I was brought up in. In this respect, Maastricht felt like the perfect choice. As a small, cozy student city with a massive international community and located in close proximity to multiple different European countries to visit and enjoy, it seemed like the perfect place to live my best student life.”

Our studies at UM…

As we both come from developing countries, we decided to follow the Emerging Markets track to gain different perspectives and an insight into the business, economic, political, financial and institutional sectors of these markets. Overall, we focused specifically on the high growth BRIC countries and the factors that drive this growth. We genuinely enjoyed this specialization since the international cohort facilitated and brought an array of diverse arguments to the discussion. One of the unique components as part of the course that engaged us with the real world was guest lectures and workshops. These significantly contributed to our practical understanding of theoretical concepts. An exceptional lecture was given by Prof Ramani discussing SITE4Society and linking their activities to the Sustainable Development Goals as given by the UN. A unique aspect discussed during the lecture was about action-based research and its implications to spheres they are applied to. This left us inspired and yearning for more knowledge. This was our first experience with Prof Ramani and SITE4Society. Little did we know that we would be lucky enough to work in such an environment in the near future.

Our journey…

In our quest to find the perfect internship, we crossed many hurdles and fought many institutional dragons but still no luck. One Friday, Jay walked towards the knight and shining armor, better known as Doctor Ibrahima S. Kaba, and pleaded; “Oh Doctor, many moons have passed, and I have not been able to find an internship. What can I do?” Dr. Kaba then mentioned an availability at UNU MERIT and handed Jay a card. It was a contact card for Maria Tomai. As fate would have it, later that week, Rita attended a workshop where she was inspired by Dr. Kaba. She too approached Dr. Kaba and desperately inquired whether UNU MERIT would have an internship for her. Dr. Kaba gave her the same card he handed Jay.

Both Rita and Jay got in touch with Maria to see whether an internship was still available. At this time, Maria invited them to the World Toilet Day event at UNU MERIT. Towards the end of the event, they both approached Professor Ramani to request any possible opportunities for them. As they walked towards Prof Ramani’s office to discuss this, they both anxiously hoped they would get it as getting this far itself was unimaginable. As the Prof mentioned that they would be able to intern with SITE4Society, they both did not believe it and walked home with great excitement. They could not believe what just happened.

Stay tuned for our internship experiences…