Name: Regina Toomey
Course taken: MA Development Studies (completed 2009)
Current work title / position: President of “Asociacion de Desarrollo Sostenible para los pueblos Urbanos y Rurales” (ADSOPUR), Peru
“Studying at KDSC was for me a marvelous experience on many levels. Having worked for many years on the ground in the development field my time in Kimmage gave me the opportunity to enlighten my lived experience with theories, practices, policies and other experiences of the broader development world which in turn have strongly influenced my stance, approach and work in development since returning to the grassroots.
The “Kimmage experience” stands out for me as a people-centered, participative, holistic learning space, with ample opportunity to reflect on, question, debate and learn about oneself and approaches to development. While a broad range of diverse subjects were covered, the teaching approach was such that all aspects of ‘development’ were covered in a complementary way leading to an excellent adult learning experience. Undoubtedly for me the uniqueness and greatness of KDSC as a learning centre lies in the spaces and atmosphere created for interaction (social and educational) between students of diverse experiences and cultures and a staff of equally diversity who while stretching us (students) to the limit academically brought development alive and created an extremely enjoyable learning experience.
On applying to study in Kimmage I had certain expectations of how the year might benefit me in my future work in development, the actual experience of studying in Kimmage far exceeded my expectations…it wasn’t just a good year it was a brilliant one!
The Kimmage programme has highly influenced my work in development during the past two years. The setting up of the Development Association (ADSOPUR) with six other urban settlement residents was a direct result of the findings and conclusions of the research and dissertation I presented for the masters course. The vision and mission of this Association has been influenced by learning and insights gleaned from all subjects, but especially “Political Economy” and “Sociology of Development”. The strong focus on ownership of this Association by local people and participation of local people in all initiatives and projects as well as methodologies used in facilitating participation have been colored by learning at Kimmage – “Sociology of Development and Anthropology”, “Adult Learning” (and Paolo Freire!), “Leadership in Groups”, “Facilitation in Practice” and “Conflict Resolution”. The setting up of ADSOPUR as a legally recognized organization and its introduction to the broader development world through the presentation of projects would not have been possible without learning from “Project Planning and Gender Analysis”. While ADSOPUR is in its infancy stage and has an uphill journey to face it is already showing that “bottom up” development can happen and I can say with certainty that its existence is a direct result of the “Kimmage Experience”…so KDSC take a bow!