Below are some of the the students who are taking part in ADVANCES and on their way to becoming leaders in the international field of Social Work.
Ana Teresa – Portugal
At a young age I moved to Lisbon to study Fine Arts – Paintings and continued in Salamanca -Spain. Arts, paintings, films were always my passion and I never imagined myself studying anything else. But… (when you are a in your twenties there are always important “buts” and “questions” that change dramatically the course of your life)
…starting my university studies in this field, soon I realized that creativity can be a powerful tool, able to make us achieve and overcome almost anything. Arts allow you to observe things in life from another perspective and that can be reassuring and empowering. This was the discovery, in my personal growing, that lead me to the degree of Social Work.
Digna – Tanzania
I am Tanzanian woman employed by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in the Department of Social Welfare since 2006 to date, as a Senior Social Welfare Officer in Tanzania.
I am a Social worker committed to social justice and have been motivated to develop my skills with the ADVANCES program. This course is very relevant to Developing countries such as Tanzania, and it will help me to promote social change when I return home. It is a great experience to live and study in an International atmosphere for 2 years. Travelling to European Countries such as United Kingdom, Denmark, France, Portugal and Poland with my fellow students from different countries is a great experience to study, and experience different cultures in social work.
I hope to become a global leader in Social Work after the end of the ADVANCES course, it is amazing.
John – Uganda
I have previously worked in Uganda with GOAL international and Ethiopia and Somalia with Smart Vision in a series community development initiatives.
I find the ADVANCES programme a great opportunity to advance your social work passion – create new contacts, critical and creative ideas, social connections. The list is endless, but also a challenge in a sense that you have to take two years off your family, friends, food, and the like to study. However, and most importantly, the benefits of the programme are long term and in many senses outweigh the challenges. I find myself in a situation where I am simultaneously studying new creative and critical techniques of keeping social work alive but also touring Europe – ADVANCES touring if you like (What an Adventure!!!).
Mahmud – Bangladesh
I am the founding General Secretary of Community Welfare Foundation (CWF), a volunteer researcher at Society of the Deaf and Sign Language users (SDSL) and Lecturer in social work at National University, Bangladesh (NUB).
I am primarily interested in social research, social work teaching and learning activities. Before joining in NUB in 2004, I spent four years at the Asian University of Bangladesh, Uttara Town University College where I taught courses of social science to the graduate students. I have been awarded the BSS, MSS and MPhil degree from Dhaka University, Bangladesh.
I have studied and published on topics such as environmental change, self-help practice, poverty, microcredit and disability rights.
I am also an activist. I believe that the social work knowledge that I have must involve itself in the pressing social and political issues of our time. I have been engaged in the disability rights movement, the fight against extreme poverty and the struggle against the discrimination against marginal communities.
Majd – Palestinian Authority of the West Bank and Gaza Strip
I am a young Palestinian woman born in Jerusalem. I obtained my Bachelor degree of Arts in Sociology from Birzeit University, Palestine. My belief in the extraordinary powers of our youth, and their ability to face reality and change it towards a better future full of dignity and respect, has shaped my career life. During which I have been working in community development in the youth field for the past four years. Throughout this period I have been a focal member in founding the first Palestinian Live action role-playing (LARP) community in Palestine. LARP is an activity that is occupying a large space of my professional life; it is a tool and an art that is bounded within the field that I am working in.
I am passionate about traveling because it is a great opportunity to get to broaden my horizon and explore interesting things around the world. Besides that it allows me to meet people from different backgrounds and discover common touch-points within our unique cultures, and exchanging experiences. The Erasmus Mundus ADVANCES and development scholarship provided me with the chance to meet wonderful people from many different continents, who speak different languages, have different cultures, but are all united on common values such as; justice and dignity.
Roxana – Romania
My name is Roxana Turcu and I am from Romania. I like to learn from books and people, to discover new places around the world and sometimes just sit and do nothing J. I believe in social change and in our responsibility to do something for the community we are living in, at a smaller or larger scale, and this is why I am enthusiastic to be part of this first generation of ADVANCES. I hope it to be a space of learning, experiencing, sharing and broadening our understanding on the world. At the moment, I work with A.R.T. Fusion Association, an NGO that seeks to bring a positive change in the society by developing social competencies to young people through non-formal education and participative arts. In the five years spent here it became for me a place with lovely and inspiring people, with a lot of beautiful memories and life lessons. Another thing that I enjoy doing is being a trainer and in the last 2 years I have done this in collaboration with the pool of trainers for the Youth in Action Program. I hope to have a lot of moments with all of you to share more about me and moreover to discover more from your stories. I am looking forward to sharing this masters course with all of you.
Sarwat – Pakistan
I have done my major in Gender Studies, and have worked with a number of NGOs ranging from short term positions to working in national Woman’s Rights Organization, namely Aurat Foundation and ActionAid.
I have had plenty of experience in providing strategic guidance and leadership in programmes. I have experience in leading a team, coordinating and supporting in interventions through building linkages and relationships with partners, stakeholders and the civil society to forward women’s rights agenda. I have good links with actors and players in the women’s rights movement and the civil society. I also maintain a good working relationship with key government members across the country at all levels; this is very useful when it comes to alliance building.
In the past conducted and I have been involved in the training of women’s forums to empower women staff through an enabling gender sensitive space and have also worked on building women’s capacity in leadership roles. This is type of work I have been involved with at Aurat Foundation. Along with my paid work I work as a volunteer in the community particularly on youth, I am linked with many national and international youth networks.
Silindile – Botswana
If I could describe my journey with Erasmus Mundus Advances programme in two words. I would definitely say LIFE CHANGING. As an ambitious and goal-oriented young lady from Botswana my experience with this programme has been surreal to say the least. I have not only had the opportunity of meeting wonderful people from different parts of the part world from whom I have learnt a lot through thought provoking discussions and sharing of experiences, but I have also learnt a lot about myself in the process. Through the programme I have had the opportunity to travel to different countries and meet amazing young people who like me want to contribute to the world in a positive way. So far I have attended youth conferences in Greece, Germany, Netherlands and Macedonia to practically apply the knowledge and skills I have gained from the programme to youth initiatives aimed at bringing about change. In addition, the lectures involved in the programme are wonderful and very supportive both at an academic and personal level. Having this kind of support is important especially when you are far away from your family and loved ones. I would definitely recommend this programme to anybody ready to take on the journey towards both academic and personal development.
Tan – Thailand
My professional background as a social worker are in migrant workers and refugees. I am interested in those groups especially children. I am far away from home which makes me face many challenges and new experiences. This course is really a life-changing period of time while my classmates are from 17 different countries. We share ideas in discussion while we also see cultural crash in the meantime. Moreover, teaching styles of lectures in each university give me a platform to learn about the education systems and what is expected from me as an international student.
I really enjoy being in class and learning about new social work methodologies. This world is too big for social workers to work with everyone, but not limited to our cross-national cooperation. If you are an open-minded person, you will see dynamics in your identities which are challenged and formed in various ways from studying, managing your life in foreign countries, dealing with problems or gaining some inspirations.
Travelling among European countries is easier than you think. Let yourself have an adventure in these two years in the course, and you will see how much you love life.
Tatenda – Zimbabwe
Tatenda is a Zimbabwean social worker with experience in statutory social work. He has worked in his country’s Department of Social Services and has hands on skills for working with looked after children, Orphans and Vulnerable children, older persons, persons with disabilities, Persons Living with HIV and AIDS.
ADVANCES has presented Tatenda with a platform to blend and consolidate work experience with the various vibrant theoretical perspectives that encompass the Advances programme. Tatenda looks forward to gaining more insights via research, and the various Advances modules on coping mechanisms service users resort to in the face of developments such as structural adjustment programmes and Euro zone crisis inspired austerity measures. Furthermore, he also hopes to develop further critical understanding of how processes like globalization and neo liberalism influence design and delivery of quality social work interventions that remain true to the values and principles of Social work.
Tetiana – Ukraine
I come from Ukraine, and I was studying a Bachelor in social work (2008-2012) and Master degrees (2012). It would have been quite boring story, if it was not social work…
My first job as a social worker was in organization-partner of UNHCR was to help refugees to receive medical services. As one refugee once told me ‘well, this is good start for you’. He was so right. I got interested in migration because of this practical experience, but also reading books about refugees, communicating with refugees and asylum seekers It also inspired me to do research about one ethnic minority community in Kyiv, Ukraine; I participated in a conference on migration and global issues and met those who do research in the migration field. From that point I realized three things: I really love doing research; second, I need more knowledge about how to do it well in social work; and third, I would like, as a teacher, to share with others what I know. To start with I need to learn more myself – this is why I applied to the ADVANCES Master in Social Work.
I now realize that these two years will become a big challenge for me. I see that when I applied for the course I did not even approximately realize how big and beautiful this challenge is.