Here's the latest from WCSU alumna Kate Lockwood, who is spending this year working for an NGO in New Delhi, India:
"I graduated from Western Connecticut State University in 2005 with a B.A. in English: Professional Writing: Business. Like many undergraduates, I was not sure what career I wanted to pursue. I decided to become a substitute English teacher in an inner-city middle school. After obtaining a Durational Shortage Area Permit (DSAP), I returned to school in 2006 to earn a master’s degree at University of Bridgeport in Secondary Education with English certification.
"Teaching in an impoverished inner-city school for five years exposed me to the vast educational disparity that exists in the United States and how, in turn, this disparity is internalized by children. In 2007, six ethnic Karen students joined my English class. These students, along with their families, had been resettled to the United States because of the civil war in Burma. I quickly became very involved with the resettled families: organizing a donation drive, voluntarily teaching English language classes in the evenings, and recruiting other volunteers to assist the families who were being underserved by the organization responsible for assisting them. This marked a significant turning point in my life.
"Having seen the domestic side of the U.S. resettlement process and the struggles faced by the Karen families, I wanted to better understand the decision process and the expectations of refugees prior to resettlement. In the summer of 2008, I spent two months in the Thai-Burmese border region where I conducted ethnographic fieldwork and interviews in Mae La Refugee Camp. The findings of this research are described in a co-authored article forthcoming in The Journal of Refugee Studies. While in Mae Sot, Thailand, I also worked as a volunteer English teacher for the children of illegal Burmese migrants.
"Leaving my position as a teacher in mid-2010, I moved to New Delhi where I began an internship with a local NGO, the India Alliance for Child Rights (IACR). IACR focuses on a broad range of issues pertaining to child rights and the specific needs of disadvantaged populations including refugee and internally displaced children, child laborers, urban poor and migrant youth. Living in India and learning to speak Hindi has been an amazing experience.
"I am currently in the process of applying to graduate schools in the U.K. where I would like to earn a second master’s degree in conflict and international development. Having worked with different socially excluded populations, I am especially interested in the self-reinforcing and cyclical relationships of poverty, social exclusion, conflict, and migration and how children in particular factor into this pattern. Having had the opportunity to live in India and visit Thailand, Burma, and Laos, I have a special interest in South and Southeast Asia. Ultimately, I would like to work for an international development NGO that blends fieldwork, policy work and research, while keeping open a return to academia for a doctoral degree."
Thanks much for the update, Kate. You're a wonderful example of the ways in which WCSU alums make a big difference in their local communities and greater world at large.