Name: Abreu Correia
Nationality: East Timor
Course taken: MA in Development Studies (completed 2012)
“When I applied for the Irish Aid Fellowship, I was working with the State Secretariat for Vocational Training and Employment (SSVTE) as Chief of Staff. SSVTE is a central government entity responsible for vocational training, employment and labour matters.
At first, I was thinking of a course with relationships to my work experience, like Labour and Employment Policy Studies. But I met with some of my friends who had done their studies in Ireland previously and asked their advice. I was surprised when most of them suggested Development Studies at Kimmage. They told me it is a small college with a small number of students from many different countries, but with a good quality in the area of Development Studies. When I started gathering information concerning the subject, I felt it would give me knowledge to apply in my work.
I found out that it is a very practical course and the subjects offered are very useful. I have gained practical knowledge which will be beneficial to apply in my workplace when I go back – for example, the subjects of Project Cycle Management and Financial Management. We need to manage government money with proper monitoring and evaluation. The money that belongs to the people needs to be used properly.
I was a leader in my workplace, a high ranking position in the institution. In the context of Timor-Leste, if you are leader, you lead and order. There is no “work with” term in the dictionary of most of the leaders in the workplaces. I was no exception. However, to be a leader means to be an example and a humble figure, and work with the people. You are not working through giving orders, but working with staff as partners, using the participatory approach to get progress. That’s knowledge that I have gained in the subject of Leadership and Adult Learning. I realise that the system we have practised for years in our workplaces are not appropriate for the development of my country.
Apart from the knowledge I have gained so far, I was struck by the teaching and learning environment in the college, the facilitation. It’s a friendly environment in which every student is made to feel part of things. We were educated to be real, humble and hard-working people from the day I started attending classes. It has changed my whole perceptions about learning and life itself. I realised I needed to learn more – and I have learnt.
Here we participate, everyone is the same and knowledge and experiences are shared. Previously I didn’t know about the system used in Tanzania, in Kenya, in Uganda, in Zambia, in Ghana, in Ireland itself or in Brazil. Now I have knowledge about these.
When I came, language was a problem but I tried hard and now it’s okay, too.
I’m really very thankful about this scholarship from Irish Aid. Studying this course has changed my whole vision and thinking; it has been really beneficial.
For me, career and personal benefit are really not important at all, what I want to do is contribute to and serve the country that I love”.