Universities in Germany are now free of tuition fees for all including international students. Yesterday, Lower Saxony became the last of seven German states to abolish their tuition fees, which were already extremely low.

German universities had been charging for tuition since 2006. The measure proved unpopular, and German states began dropping them one by one. It is now all gone throughout the country, even for foreigners.

This means that now, both domestic and international undergraduate students at public universities in Germany are able to study in Germany for free, with just a small fee to cover administration– usually between €150 and €250 (US$170-280)  – and other living expenses costs per semester (food, transport, accommodation, entertainment, course materials and other necessities).

Germans barely had to pay for undergraduate study even before tuition fees were abolished. Semester fees averaged around €500 ($630). It is now gone.

Free education is a concept that is embraced in most of Europe with notable exceptions like the U.K., where the government voted to lift the cap on university fees in 2010, and tripled the tuition fees therefore. The measure has reportedly cost more money than it brought in. The Guardian reported last March that students are failing to pay back student loans.

Maybe for now, learning German might be the best financial choice an high school student can make.

This article was published at Migreat Blog and retrieved on 11/25/2015 and posted at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. The views and thoughts expressed in the article remains those of the author. Please, cite the original and this source accordingly.



Clark researchers examining relationships between U.S.-born, foreign-born Worcester residents

Lead researchers Cheryl Hamilton, left, and Anita Fabos are spearheading Clark University's Shared Worlds research project, exploring the relationship between U.
Lead researchers Cheryl Hamilton, left, and Anita Fabos are spearheading Clark University’s Shared Worlds research project, exploring the relationship between U.S.-born and foreign-born Worcester residents. T&G Staff/Christine Hochkeppel

Written By: Scott O’Connell, Telegram & Gazette Staff

Posted Nov. 15, 2015 at 5:51 PM; Updated Nov 16, 2015 at 8:41 P


WORCESTER – U.S.- and foreign-born residents alike call Worcester home. But are they actually interacting with each other?

That’s the question behind a novel new study being conducted by researchers at Clark University. The study is being led by professor Anita Fabos and Cheryl Hamilton, who is director of Partner Engagement at the International Institute of New England.

The “Shared Worlds” project, which the university is backing with support from the Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise, aims to take an unprecedented glimpse into the kinds of relationships Worcester’s diverse inhabitants have with each other, and hopefully provide valuable new data to influence policy-making decisions in the city.

“While we sometimes look at Worcester in a nostalgic way, it’s really in a state of becoming,” Ms. Fabos said, as immigration continues to reshape neighborhoods, schools and business in the city. “In a large part, it’s a story of the United States.”

But existing data about Worcester’s foreign-born residents has focused primarily on how they are integrating into the city – the types of services they need, the kinds of occupations they have – rather than on how they are intermingling with the area’s U.S.-born residents. Nor is there much information about how immigrant groups are interacting with each other, the researchers said.

As a result, there isn’t much information about “the intangible of social belonging,” Ms. Fabos said, a factor that is often an important ingredient in the “recipe for long-term well-being of a community.”

While they didn’t want to taint the responses of future participants by revealing too much about what residents have said so far, Ms. Hamilton said, a variety of experiences have been relayed in the research team’s interview groups. Some foreign-born residents have become part of a rich network of connections with other immigrants as well as native residents, while others have remained mostly isolated.

“We’re not just measuring refugees’ sense of belonging,” she added. “How do U.S.-born residents feel?”

The breakdown of people being interviewed for the project is roughly 25 percent foreign-born – foreign-born people make up about 22 percent of Worcester’s population – and 75 percent U.S.-born, and it’s the U.S.-born whose experiences are often left out of studies on the impacts of immigration, Ms. Hamilton said.

“Yet there’s two populations who are being impacted” by immigration, she pointed out. “Our main goal is to make sure people are being heard.”

As of Thursday, the Shared Worlds researchers had interviewed around 30 groups of eight to 12 people; their goal is to talk to 1,000 residents. They expect interviews will extend into early January, and are still encouraging community groups to host a session by contacting them

Ms. Fabos said her team has already been working closely with local groups, especially those with close links to various foreign-born populations in the city, to draw in volunteers. That strategy has proven effective, she and Ms. Hamilton said, as evidenced by the fact they have already nearly met their quota for foreign-born interviews.

“It’s been a domino effect,” Ms. Hamilton said, as foreign-born residents who participated in the project have recommended it to friends and relatives. “What I’ve heard consistently is that participants felt like they were heard for the first time. I think that’s a really wonderful outcome so far.”

The interviews are being conducted by a team of graduate students such as Mikayla Bobrow, who are working through interpreters to ask questions to the study’s subjects. There is some nuance involved, she said, in getting an accurate sense of people’s experiences.

“I noticed the younger men were dominating a lot of conversation” in one of her sessions with Rwandan and Congolese refugees, for example, she said. “And I noticed it was really hard to get the women to speak.”

One of the primary aims of Shared Worlds, Ms. Hamilton said, is to avoid letting the testimony of spokespeople represent the experiences of an entire community or nationality.

“What’s unique about the project is we’re really going for the grass-roots level,” she said. “We’re trying to get the moms and dads and neighbors.”

Considering many of those people have never shared their viewpoints before in a study like Shared Worlds, Ms. Fabos said she and her fellow researchers “have no idea what the outcome will be” of their interviews.

“It could be really interesting to see if Iraqi refugees are starting to make contact with Hmong refugees or Vietnamese immigrants, for example,” she said.

It could be equally illuminating to see whether U.S.-born residents are still maintaining relationships with each other, Ms. Hamilton said.

“I’ve heard people who’ve said they don’t even know their neighbor,” she said. “Why is that, and is it the same for a Vietnamese refugee?”

One of the study’s questions to participants, both foreign- and U.S.-born, for instance, is where they most often sees U.S.-born residents in their daily lives. For some interviewees, their only interaction comes at work, while others have a greater variety of interactions at their children’s schools, their neighborhood churches and other social gathering places. Other residents may not feel there’s even a need for such interactions, and “it’s important to understand their experiences as well,” Ms. Hamilton said.

Once they have finished their interviews, the researchers hope to put the comprehensive summary report of their findings into the hands of Worcester’s decision-makers sometime next year. “This is not research that’s going to sit on a shelf here at Clark,” Ms. Hamilton said. They said they’ve received interest in particular from Mayor Joseph Petty’s office.

“The mayor has certainly made it a priority to make Worcester as welcoming as possible to all its residents, especially foreign-born residents,” said Mr. Petty’s chief of staff, Daniel Racicot. “I think we’re always looking for best practices, and looking for as much information as possible when we make policy decisions.”

Scott O’Connell can be reached at Scott.O’ Follow him on Twitter@ScottOConnellTG

This article was published at the Telegram & Gazette and was retrieved in 11/25/2015 and posted here at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. Please cite the original and this source accordingly. The views, thoughts and information contain in the article are those of the author and research team only.

Where the Governors Got it Wrong: Resettling Syrian Refugees in the United States

Source: Jakarta Post

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.”


In the last few days, the world witnessed one of the horrible terror attacks against humanity – the terrorist attack in Paris, which led to 129 people dead. Terror has no place in this world and now it is the time for us to unite to fight terror to the end. Those killed in Paris and other parts of the world were killed because they were free people. People who believe in freedom, liberty, justice, and free will.

The terror attack in Paris unearth issues that need to be addressed diplomatically to bring to an end the Syrian crisis. It is now time to unite our forces and energies against this terror, which means focusing our strategies, tactics, resources, and man power as a united force against IS.

Nevertheless, in the midst of all these people are victims and Syrians and those of North Africa are the primary victims of terrorism. Syrians, in particular, had to go through all the hardships to escape terror at the front of their homes.

They walked thousands of miles, starve in most instances for days, weeks and months just to survive this terror. Many could not make the journey as they involuntarily fled from their homes. No one really wants to leave the place they consider home and everyone who is a refugee knows that that is a fact even if they are resettled to heaven. Home will always be home and nothing earthly can replace it. The meaning attached to home are not easily transferred to places refugees eventually seek refuge. It takes time to call a new place home.

Source: Rescue

It is not the time for us to turn away from those who fled violence and terror in their home country. The moment we stop helping others is the moment we deny our humanity and undermine our values, principles and all that we are and so dearly believe in. Today, they are refugees and seeking our help – tomorrow we could be in need of something else and we might seek help from others.

The United States is a great nation not because we have powerful weapons and large guns. We are great as a people because of the values, principles and beliefs that we stand and live for. I do believe that we can do this. We can shelter, provide medicine, food, clothes and peace of mind for Syrian refugees that need our help.

The United States refugee resettlement program is one of the rigorous resettlement programs in the world as far as I know and experienced. I had conducted over 10 different presentations across this country creating awareness of refugees’ issues and also about how the US Refugee Resettlement process works. If you are interested, please click below.

The US Refugee Resettlement Program

Refugees are not just taken out of a refugee camp and displaced setting and resettled to a third country. The process of resettlement takes between 1-2 years and even longer depending on several factors. The processes listed as “durable solution” to end “refugee-ness” are a). local integration (in the primary host country), b). repatriation (going back home) and resettlement (relocated to a third country.

Resettlement is the last resort of all three durable solutions and the most preferred of all the three options. Thus, before discussing how the US Resettlement Program works for the benefits of Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and his colleagues from other states across the political divide and for those at the senate who plans or are planning to pass a legislature to restrict or block the resettlement of Syrian refugees to the United States.


a. Local Integration

When refugees flee from their home country and enter another country in most cases bordering their home country. They are in most instances welcomed and registered by the appropriate refugee agency of the country.

Usually, this prior registration process is jointly implemented by the government of the host country and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Thus, the point here is that, if well coordinated, each refugee is registered and provided with some sort of identification. At that point, they officially gain refugee status. The process of local integration in the primary host country is a long process and also depends on the state hosting the refugee population and the refugee themselves.

For the state, aspects that are considered include, but are not limited to the population, economy, national security, the refugee population itself, etc. For effective refugee management, the moment refugees are admitted, the process to find a durable solution should start immediately because you want people to settle and live freely.

However, local integration in the host country should be encouraged since refugees can easily transition back home once the situation, which caused them to flee cease to exist in their country of origin.

Also, one reason while local integration should be encouraged is that in most instances the primary host country shares similar cultural and ethnic diversity of the seeking refuge. This is not to say that the relationship is perfect, but people relationships cross national borders.

However, one reason why most refugees don’t seem to choose local integration as a durable solution is that they are easily targeted due to cross borders attacks. I am not very sure if they might be the case in Libya and Syria, but in West Africa for example, rebels from Liberia were accused of staging attacks on refugee camps in Guinea and Sierra Leone. Similar incidents were reported in the Great Lakes Region in Eastern Africa. If well planned, local integration in the primary country of refuge can be an effective solution to cease refugee status.

b). Repatriation

Unlike local integration, repatriation is done when a refugee decides to return to his or her home country when the condition of fear, which causes the refugee situation ceases to exist back home. Again, like local integration, voluntary repatriation is done at the free will of the refugee.

However, if the conditions back in their home country for which they fled cease to exist and refugee population still refuse to return home voluntarily and local integration is rejected by the refugee population and the resettlement isn’t possible, their refugee status can be terminated because cessation clause in the host country’s refugee policy specifies that “once the condition of fear for which the refugee fled his or her country cease to exist” their refugee status can be terminated by the government of the host country.

The good thing about voluntary repatriation is that, if well planned, returnees (i.e. former refugees) can be relocated back to their communities and start the rehabilitation, reintegration and reconstruction process back in their country. In most cases in the event of a voluntary repatriation, refugees returning home are provided with some assistance (financial or logistical) to help facilitate transition when they return.

c). Resettlement

Within the refugee cycle, resettlement is the optimal choice, but the most difficult stage of the durable solution to the refugee crisis. Usually, the initial determination to resettle a refugee family is a product of several processes. First, in the traditional sense; that is, resettlement that is initiated from the UNHCR is conducted after several interviews (aka counseling sections with a refugee/a refugee family) and a UNHCR Case Worker.

When it is determined by the UNHCR staff that a refugee or a refugee family life is at stake in the host country and the prospect of returning home is unlikely, that individual and his family are recommended to the consulate of a refugee resettlement country. Once that process gets started, the consulate in question takes over the process and all files relating to that individual and his/her family members are turned over to the consulate office responsible for resettlement processing. This process according to the US Refugee Resettlement Program is known as Priority I.

Secondly, for humanitarian reasons, refugees can be resettled to a third country. That is, special humanitarian concerns could warrant the US to issue the admission of refugees in the United States. The current humanitarian crisis of Syrian refugees falls into this bracket of the US Refugee Resettlement program known as Priority II.

Thirdly, another way a refugee is resettled to a third country ( the third country in this narrative means resettlement country and usually means a developed country that can provide the needs of the refugee family that is considered for resettlement) at least for the case of the US Refugee Resettlement Program is through Family Reunification, which is Priority III.

In this refugee resettlement program, refugees are admitted to the United States through a family member (parents), spouse and unmarried child under 21 years of age, who was a refugee themselves and are either a permanent resident or citizen of the United States. Even given that, the person being applied for by his relative in the US has to demonstrate refugee status in the country where the application is sent to the US Consulate for processing.

Thus, now that we know that refugees are not just resettled once they leave their country, even though the case of Syrian refugees could challenge this convention because we have thousands of people landing on the shores of Europe. It is paramount for countries that are interested in resettling Syrian refugees to coordinate their efforts and also work with those countries like Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, etc to see how those already undergoing some sort of biometric processing could be resettled.

Also, the massive influx of refugees in Europe is also creating a humanitarian crisis and in this case, the UNHCR and other agencies need to work with the governments of resettlement countries to start processing refugees for resettlement, but first addressing their immediate needs.

Now, with a clear picture of what resettlement is like and the various types of resettlement listed in the US Resettlement Program, I will now focus on more specifically how the resettlement process, irrespective of which type works.

Source: US Department of State

Step # 1. Overseas Processing Entity (OPE)/UNHCR

US Refugees resettlement is a tough process. The resettlement process starts with an initial interview of the refugee applicant by a UNHCR staff or a staff member of an Overseas Processing Entity (OPE), a contracting firm of either the UN Refugee agency or the Department of State or the country initiating the resettlement process.

The goal of the interview with OPE or UNHCR staff is to work with the refugee seeking to be resettled to make sure that their records are right and to also determine if their case merits resettlement. This is usually called pre-screening. Some refugees get denial letters from this process if they failed to justify why they need to be resettled or denial could be if their names are a red flag or had prior criminal records that could serve as a ground to deny resettlement.

All along the resettlement process, prospective refugees to be resettled get letters of approval after each stage of the resettlement process. However, the three most important stages are during the pre-screening, interview with the US Immigration staff and after the results of medical examination. Nowadays, refugees don’t get denied because of their prior medical conditions. This used to be the case in the past in the early 1980s, 1990s and early part of 2000, but things change after 2003.

That is, refugee application for resettlement has to justify why resettlement is the optimal choice over local integration and repatriation. Simply put why can’t you integrate into your current host country and why can’t you return home? If the responses to these two questions along with other questions that may be asked by the interviewer are not satisfactory or there is misleading information in the storyline, they can be denied resettlement and their case will remain at that level…done!!

However, if they have a solid reason why resettlement is the optimal choice over other options, then a staff of the OPE will schedule a second interview. This time to prepare and finalize paperwork after which it will be forwarded to the US Consulate and a State Department or Department of Homeland Security staff will schedule an immigration interview, which are thorough and comprehensive and scary, at least to the refugee applicants.

Step # 2. Interview with USCIS Staff

Typically, the wait time between the last interview at OPE to the interview held by member of United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) staff from the US Consulate usually takes between 3-4 months interval. This off-course depends on the case load available.

This time doesn’t account for relatively 6-7 months wait period going through the OPE Pre-screening processes. Prior to meeting with the USCIS/State Department staff, name checks are conducted to make sure that the individual is not flag in any way and has no prior arrest warrant or anything that could cause national security concerns once admitted in the United States. Once that is done, the staff of the US Consulate conducts a face-to-face interview only with the individual and or his family and member and a decision of their refugee resettlement application are verbally announced at the end of the interview followed by a letter.

Once it is determined that they have legitimate reasons of fear for which resettling in the United States surpass local integration in the primary country of refuge and repatriation is not possible, their case is approved at the scene or few days letter and an admissions letter issued by the US Consulate. If their stories are inconsistent or information became available is security concerns, the staff more reason to have their resettlement application in the US denied.

The result of such process is made known in a letter signed by the US Department of State official who conducted the interview for which you were under oath. Not every refugee is interview by the FBI and or CIA. The determination as to whether or not an individual refugee applicant seeking resettlement in the United States will be interview by one or either agency is based on the national origin and the high-risk country outlined by the US Department of State and the US Department of Homeland Security (USDHS).

Step # 3. Medical Examination and Screening

This stage is where all the medical conditions for resettlement in the US are met. It is a comprehensive medical examination, which involves physical, blood works, malaria treatment (if the refugee is originating from a malaria-induced eco-region), etc. About 15-30 years ago, refugees applicants used to be denied due to HIV + status, but now with the advancement in medicine against the fight with HIV, the conditions for denial based on HIV + status is no longer effective and outdated and those refugees who are HIV positive are provided treatment starting in the country of host until to arrive in the US.

Step # 4. Cultural Orientation

Cultural orientation is usually conducted by OPE or the appropriate agency contracted to educate newly “to be resettled” refugees to the United States. The cultural orientation class usually last for 14 days at the hourly duration of 7 hours daily. Trained educators go through every aspect of the American ways of life from accessing public transportation, to banking, how to dial 911, etc. A certificate of completion is awarded to each participant. Participation and completion of all classes/sections are mandatory to the resettlement process or you forfeit eligibility.

Step # 5. Travel Arrangements

This is one of the joyous stages as a refugee when you know that you are about to travel, but not just yet. At this stage, the airline ticket(s) are booked and you signed a promissory note to repay the money used to purchase the ticket on your behalf. Usually, repayments of airline tickets are done through the resettlement agency in the US. However, each refugee can elect to send their checks or payment directly to the collection agency, which will most likely be the resettlement agency. Each refugee and or a refugee family is given about 12 months after arrival to start repayment. At least grace period is better than that of the student loan repayment. Lol!

Step # 6. The Resettlement Agency (US Based)

This stage is done without the prior consent of the refugee applicant. Resettlement agencies such as Catholic Charity, Church World Service, and Lutheran Immigrants and Refugees Service or Ascentria Care just to name a few are assigned refugees cases to facilitate the process of integration into American ways of life.

The resettlement agency prior to the arrival date of the refugee receives all the document on each family member per refugee family and start putting things together. Once the refugee and his family arrive, the agency helps with attaining SSN, State ID, process application for the Department of Homeland Security Work Authorization Card for the next three months, health care or health insurance, public library cards for those interested, schools and colleges, etc. Basically, it is expected that within 9-12 months, each resettled refugee family will be able to navigate the system and gradually start to face out of the resettlement agency. However, that just talks as most refugees take more time to get adjusted to the system and be able to stand alone.

Step # 7. Departure to the United States

Once all of steps 1 to 6 are satisfied, it is that time that we can say good bye to friends in the refugee camp or displace center. It is usually a time of joy and sadness. Joy because as you look behind you once saw mayhem, but in front, you finally see peace, peace of mind, love, happiness, and safety. Sadness because many of your friends and even family members are left behind at the refugee camp.

All departures transportation services are coordinated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), UNHCR, TSA, and USDHS. Usually, refugees admitted to the United States are transported on regular transport planes accompanied by a convoy from IOM and in some cases UNHCR.

Each refugee is given a white plastic bag, which contains all their relevant documents sealed for US Immigration Official to open and evaluate for screening and verification purposes at the port of entry (i.e. where they first land in the US). At the immigration desk, each arriving refugee are further screened by the immigration official, biometrics are taken including photos and the sealed brown envelope taken and the admissions letter stamped and an I-94 issued. The I-94 is a legal entry document, which can be used until a green card/permanent resident card is mailed and returned once the refugee becomes a US Citizen.

Step # 8. In the US

At the port of entry, resettled refugees are met by a case manager or staff from the refugee resettlement agency and a family member, if they have one. From there, the resettlement agency takes charge and helps the newly resettled refugee integrate into the American society, which can be a long process depending on the individual, the resources that are available and their willingness to work things out as quickly as possible. The rest now becomes the normal routine.

In these processes, we collect a significant amount of data can I share some light on whether or not someone is an extremist. The US has one of the rigorous resettlement screening processes in the world. If we allow ourselves to be carried away by fear because of IS and other Islamic extremist entities, we only undermine our strengthen, the values and principles we stand for.

The Syrians people do need our fullest support and this is not the time to turn away from our neighbors when they need our hand.

So, Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, while the decision to resettle Syrian refugees in the United States is out of your power. The federal government has put in place a system with years of credible work that can yet be used to provide Syrian refugees with the assistance they need to resettle in the US and also ensure the American people that their safety is at the alter-most center of the process. I have written this post because I was a product of the US Refugee Resettlement Process and I am not a Terrorist.

An Open Response to “Tony Blair’s: The clear lesson of Iraq war”

Tony Blair
Tony Blair

Recently, Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of UK wrote an opinion piece in the CNN Opinions in which he still seems to maintain that the invasion of Iraq was inevitable and that he and George Bush’s acts of war were justified and that he (Tony Blair) literally found it “it hard to apologize for removing Saddam.”

We all know the main cause or causes for the invasion of Iraq and that as Blair maintains – was not because Saddam or Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and that neither Saddam and his regime facilitated directly or indirectly to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States.

The subject of the human costs of the war in Iraq was of significant interest to me, which facilitated contact with one of the senior researchers at Medact with the permission to use their published empirical data of the impacts of the war in Iraq on ordinary Iraqis.

This post is not in reflection of that work, but an open response to the recent opinion piece written by Former Prime Minister of the UK in the CNN Opinion. You can read his claims, positions and reflections leading to the war in Iraq and the consequences thereof.

With that being said, I will now focus the rest of this post to specifically address each points of reflection stated by Mr. Blair.

The source of the post that is being segmented here for discussion was taken from CNN.

Blair: “The actual lesson of Iraq is not complicated but clear. When you remove the dictator — no matter how vicious and oppressive — you end one battle only to begin another: How to stabilize and govern the country when the ethnic, tribal and particularly religious tensions are unleashed after the oppression has been lifted. This is the true lesson of both Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Macedo: I concur with you Tony that when a dictator is removed, it is more likely that a more vicious, barbaric and oppressive dictator comes into picture. That is true on so many levels because once suppressed one seems to pass on to others what they might have gone through themselves. While this view may be contested by others, we see one oppressor being replaced by another oppressor. it is just as the Bible says, if a demon is removed from you and you didn’t fill your heart and body with those of Christ, demons ten thousand times powerful and vicious than what you had before will occupy your body and spirit.

Thus, the people of Iraq did not call for their leader to be removed. You and George Bush Jr. lied on the pretext that Iraq had WMD, had links to Al-Qaeda and pose a national security threat to the US and her allies.

A war that started with lies can not end with truth. So, you can’t make what is lie true, because it isn’t. Unlike the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan had a reason, which was justified, given the terror mentality, ideology and practices of the Talibans.

Blair: “But it doesn’t mean that it is right to keep the dictator in place. Or possible. Because the lesson of what used to be called the “Arab Spring” — beginning in 2011 — is that with young and alienated populations deprived of political rights, these dictatorships no longer had the capability of maintaining control.”

Macedo: The question that one should be asking Tony is that at what period does a dictator becomes an enemy? At what point being a dictator is okay in the national security interest of the UK or the US, since as Tony suggested, “doesn’t mean that it is right to keep the dictator in place?”

The list of dictators backed by Western Countries including the US and UK. At what point we are comfortable to walk at the palaces of dictators and at what point we feel confident to take them out? A dictator is always a dictator and we can not like one over the other because their means of governing contradicts our values and principles.

The situations of Arab Spring, whether that naming was coined by those of the Middle East and North Africa or by the West was such that most of the protestors were initially requesting for reform and not revolution. With external influences, the later became the status quo and language of the protestors over the former. Revolution became the slogan rather than reform. These paradox became especially complicated in Syria, which eventually led to the current mayhem.

Blair: “The real choice for the Middle East was, and is, reform or revolution. So when we come to reassess Iraq, it is possible to disagree strongly with the decision to remove Saddam Hussein in 2003, to be highly critical both of the intelligence on WMD and the planning for the aftermath, and yet still be glad that he is gone.”

Macedo: The decision to remove Saddam Hussein is in no way connected to the situations of the Arab Spring. First and foremost, there weren’t any protest in Iraq requesting for reform or removal? If those existed, which I believe did, the people of Iraq had the will and if they wanted such change, they could have done just that and wouldn’t request the UK and US for any assistance.

You may be gratified that removing Saddam was better and the right thing to do irrespective of whether or not WMDs were found or not is still thinking that your acts were justified even when 7+ billion people now living, know that you lied and you are an idiot who fails to acknowledge when he goes wrong.

Blair: “Indeed, had he and his two sons been running Iraq in 2011 when the regional revolts began, it is hard to see how the upheaval would not have spread to Iraq and hard to see that he would not have behaved like his fellow Baathist Bashar al-Assad rather than like the presidents of Egypt or Tunisia who stood down. The probability is that Hussein would have tried to cling to power by whatever means no matter how brutal.”

Macedo: Rightly, you can’t predict the past because it is irrelevant and insignificant; given that it is the past.Trying to argue your case by insinuating an irrelevant case building on what if in the past, demonstrates that you are not only mentally incompetent, but also a very unstable individual.

We can most certainly learn from the past and what the youth and children of today learned from your crude and unacceptable behavior and the unwillingness to accept responsibility by lying for hidden motives, is not to follow bad leaderships you and President Bush put us into.

The main reason we have upheavals today in the Middle East and elsewhere in North Africa is practically because of people like you. Failed leaders who think they can commit crimes and get away with it. I bet that the main inner reason you wrote this post is because of the desire to free yourself, but relented. You and Bush were wrong and we know that you lied!

Blair: “In Iraq, we would have had a leader from the Sunni minority keeping out the Shia majority; in Syria, of course, we have the opposite — a Shia-backed leader from the minority keeping out a Sunni majority. The consequences of this would have been vast.”

Macedo: I find it troubling reading your scripts, which speaks more into your personality when you used the words “we would have had” or “we have the opposite.” These words speak into the attitude of control. It is always what we want and that is what we should see in distant countries.

Whether or not Shia or Sunni are at war against themselves is not ours to impose who “we” think can settle the scores. Everywhere we put our soldiers and politics, we see war, conflicts, instability, more violence and terror and also more refugees and internally displaced people.

Remember, that the peoples of the Middle East lived together for thousands of years before we even existed in the west. How did they managed to survive the total mayhem and chaos you are describing is surprising.

Blair: “Of the four nations in a state of trauma today in the region — Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya — only one has a government that is fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (with whatever difficulty), is doing so with full international support, has its leader recognized by both Saudi Arabia and Iran, and one who visits the White House. It is correct, as Fareed Zakaria’s documentary describes, that Iraq has been hugely expensive in lives lost and money spent. I understand completely the anger and anxiety this causes.”

Macedo: It is interesting that Blair figure that the mess he and Bush instituted brought no good to anyone not even the people of Iraq. Suicide bombings happens anytime today in Iraq. No one is safe! Not even a baby that is born today.

Iraq is like a melting pot that is at the brink of collapse to islamic extremists of all sorts. All because Blair and Bush decided that starting a decade of war would be the right thing to do to remove Saddam out of the picture. Saddam has being long dead and gone and still the situations in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East (which we assumed at the time of our invasion) would have turned to be good are even worst than ever before.

In the midst of all this are the innocent people killed and displaced because of the stupidity of two empty headed individuals. Yes, the war in Iraq is expensive, but more importantly and as a reminder, it resulted into the deaths of thousands of innocent souls that could have live even with Saddam still there.

I bet you on that one. So, don’t try to romanticize your evil feelings by suggesting that you “completely understand the anger and anxiety that are associated with the games you and Bush played on us and the lives of those killed in Iraq. You should be lucky that you and Bush have not being indicted for world crimes and crimes against humanity for the atrocities committed in Iraq based on lies!!

Blair: “But we do not yet know the cost of Syria or Libya. In both cases, we sought regime change. And in Libya we achieved it through military power. I make no criticisms of these decisions. I know better than most how hard they are.”

Macedo: Yes, I agree that you know “better” than most how hard they are because you didn’t push your head hard enough to thoroughly evaluate the issues before launching attacks in Iraq.

The west sought and pushed for regime change in both Libya and Syria. The initial perspectives were reform, but the languages you use from your palaces had an influence on the moment. The cost of war or regime change in Libya is clearly known and even my little son can articulate that to me – failure, madness, mayhem, more extremisms, and eventually a failed state with the lab full of democracy failures.

All amount to waste of time and resources as we continue to see Libya shredded like toilet paper between various terror and militia groups on one side of the leadership vacuum and a failed pro-western, supposingly democracy-induced government that is practically worthless and powerless.Right in the middle you have innocent souls hurt, killed and starving.

Rightly said that you can’t make criticisms of their mistakes to remove Gaddaffi with force and now Libya turns out to be just like Iraq – mayhem, upheavals, more terrors, and killings, while the people continue to suffer more than 10 times before and you sit and write crap.

Blair: “However, it is not immediately plain that policy on Libya and Syria has been more successful than Iraq. As for ISIS, it is true that it was formed after Hussein’s removal. But it is also true by 2009, al Qaeda and other jihadist groups were largely beaten in Iraq, and it was in Syria — after 2011 — where ISIS came to prominence and became the threat it is today.”

Macedo: There isn’t any policy in Libya and Syria. There wasn’t any! All there were was regime change at the favor of the west and not ideally for the people of those countries. We needed people we could control so that we get constant supply of their oil because for some reason the oil leaking down our elbows after the gulf war were running out so we needed more.

For Libya, Ghaddafi had a long standing prize that we wanted to paid with dignity. Ghaddafi long echo that he was fighting not just against the “true” protestors, but against those of islamic extremism.We overlooked that and facilitated his quick surgical, with out any legitimate solution post-Ghaddafi and the end result today is a failed Libyan state run between several extremists groups including IS and others as well as militia in the mountains along the coastal plains and pseudo western-back regime.

Blair: “I accept some of the strictures about the planning in Iraq, which had centered on the consequences of humanitarian disaster post-invasion and what would happen to the institutions of the country or if Hussein used WMD. But, part of the reason why Iraq became very difficult was that we did not perceive the full scale of the underlying extremism and its attendant violence. Where this type of extremism operates, there is a limit to what planning can do. They need to be fought against.”

Macedo: I agree that you and Bush because of pool planning and a full assessment of the large-scale impacts of the war on ordinary Iraqis that you bear the full responsibility and not some of the responsibilities. Saddam did not use WMDs because he did not had one in the first place.

Given that you keep alluding to something that didn’t exist after the facts are now know uncovering the bunch of lies told to us, it seems like you have not fully agree with yourself on this moral responsibility.

The difficulties to fight extremisms should not limit our ability to infiltrate their intelligence to facilitate our quests to defeat them. Suggesting that the nature and manner of extremism and how they operates would limits our ability to defeat them precisely undermined our capacity to fight terror and also suggest that we are incompetent.

Blair: “Underlying all of this is something Western policy is not yet wanting to admit: There is a deep-rooted problem originating in the Middle East — the product of a toxic mix of abused religion and bad politics — that has given rise to an ideology based on radical Islamism and that is now a global challenge.”

Macedo: This is the crust of the problem and this is the very reason we should be very cautious not to see everything arising from the Middle East in the eyes of bullets. Diplomacy well played and planned could be used to work out most of all the issues we find chaotic today and most of those we sought to settle with guns. Overall, we can not impose our will and values on others and doing that exemplifies the characteristics of dictatorial regimes.

The people of the Middle East have eyes, ears, brains, etc like us and they know and understands what they want. Countries in the Middle East have battle extremism for decades and they know how to work out their problems with or without our bullets.

Blair: “Of course, some will say we should never have gone into Iraq because that gave the extremists an opportunity. But my point is that had we never removed Hussein, it is not at all clear that we would be in a better position today post-2011 — or that he would not have used the erosion of sanctions (and, back then, $100 a barrel oil) to go back to his old games. Not until the Middle East has gone through its painful transition to modernity will we be able to pass a full judgment on the effects of decision to go to war in 2003.”

Macedo: Tony, the decision to go to war in 2003 was wrong. It was the wrong war on the wrong time, place and people. Everything about going to Iraq was wrong. It is not in your power and control to decide how the people of a country or region live. You and Bush should be indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. You lie for the wrong reason and allow our ladies and gentlemen to died not mentioning the thousands of civilians who lost their lives and millions today displaced as refugees. There is nothing else that we need to wait for to determine how our involvements and roles in Iraq translate into promises we made. We failed because the war in Iraq was wrong and shouldn’t have happened in the first place. We Americans allow our leaders to go unpunished even when they lied. But those who lied and hurt others have their consciences to live with and Blair writing this post is just few steps aways to fully acknowledging that his role in the 2003 war in Iraq was wrong.

Blair: “But when I think of the hundreds of thousands of victims of Hussein — the bloodshed and instability his wars caused the region and his people — then, for all the mistakes that were made and for which those of us involved have always apologized, I think history will be more balanced in its judgment.”

Macedo: History is never balance because those things that constitute his-story are unbalance. Also, suggesting that your sins are equal to his sins makes you no different from the dictator you dethroned anyways. Tony, your closing statement is not as convincing that would be expected from a educated person like you. The war in Iraq was wrong and you must fully take responsibility for your actions.

Bridging Academic and Career Advising: What Matters the Most?

Photo Credit: Daisy Runggeary, University Park Campus, Clark University, Worcester, MA Summer 2015

Each year universities and colleges across the United States and the world at large prepare and graduate students who completed a degree-seeking program after years of studies, while also providing academic advising and in some universities career advising services. This post seeks to echo what is already known that students upon graduation have to face the reality of life by seeking jobs to be able to take care of themselves and their families.

Universities and colleges provide diverse services to students while they pursue their education. Academic Advisors who are typically members of the academic staff of the student degree-seeking program are assigned to each student. Their role is straightforward – to provide academic advising services to assigned students in course selection to meet the stated academic requirement for the degree being sought.

However, academic advisors also do provide other range of professional services to their students, which include, but are not limited to general counselling, meeting to talk about life after studies, stress management sessions, grades or test outcomes issues, etc. Some students and their academic advisors established long lasting friendships and relationships.

Career advising on the other hand tend to be downplayed by most students not because of the “assumed” irrelevance at the time of their studies, but because career advising is not well integrated into the university systems, such that, attentions are quickly driven to career advising.

Most students tend to subconsciously think that career advising should be focused on during the last few months of their academic journey; that is, months before commencement. While assuming this way is wrong, institutions should always drive traffic to both services; that is, there should be a clear line of communication and coordination between the Academic Advisors and the Career Advisors.

Thus, what then is career advising? Gordon (2006) perfectly sums up and comprehensively describes career advising, as dynamic and interactive process, which “helps students understand how their personal interests, abilities, and values might predict success in the academic and career fields they are considering and how to form their academic and career goals accordingly” (p.12).

If the links between the Academic Advisors and the Career Advisors are clearly established, the selection process of academic courses that would make the most sense to each student’s academic and career journey would be less stressful, worth the money spend and eliminate the worthless courses that they have to take that would eventually have no concrete and legitimate influence on their career preferences post-graduation.

In fact, at the time each student is assign an Academic Advisor and a Student Account Advisor (for the Registrar’s money issues) – a Career Advisor should also be assigned to each student irrespective of whether or not they selected that service.

If the goal of the university or college is to see each student prosper in terms of career pathway and a gainful employment after graduation, it would be an important matter for the university to invest in more Career Advisors for the proportion of students that are enrolled in a degree-seeking program.

This idea seems expensive because it means hiring more staff to serve as Career Advisors, but it is worth the money and it would drive more traffic to your institution, because current, prospective students and their families will see that you not only mean business, but you put students concerns and welfare first by trying to put in systems that could facilitate employability after graduating from college or university.

Students and their families pay huge fees and other costs each semester for courses and by the end of their academic journey, they are bombarded on each size my federal and private loans after the 6-months grace period. Yet, if they are even lucky to get a job within that period, they can at least start repaying and doing things they want and have passion for.

However, that is not always the case about 90% of the time. Recent graduates find it more difficult securing a job offer because most of them did not well planned or prepared in advance for the job market or in most cases, lack the needed skills and relevant professional experiences.

Most graduates have to accept unpaid internships as the last resort to be able to infiltrate the job market, something I would coined as the “unacceptable to accept” considering the amount of money already invested in their education and having to literally sacrifice on average 6-10 months or even a year or 2 to be able to get the assumed experience in a field – before they are even consider for an entry-level position, if they are even lucky.

Some graduates I know end up doing 3-5 different internships and I can’t imagine how much that have cost them financially, not considering the time, transportation, stress, etc.

While there is no legitimate guarantee that after going through both academic and career advising that you will have a job post-graduation, what matters is that you have the available resources handy and as appropriate as possible made some use of it.

I trust that having both the academic and career advising services for each student would ease the process of relevant course selection, concentrate focus on students long-term career goals within the academic setting, determine whether in fact, the current program of study is the right fit for the student and what alternatives exist even, if that means the current college isn’t the right place for the student.

Most universities and colleges still rely on this old-school academic advising and career divide where the gaps between the two services are huge. Each student career goals need to be integrated into their academic goals as that would make the most sense to prepare the individual for the career world after graduation.

Generally, students attend colleges and universities because eventually they want to get a job. Thus, an educational system, which holistically takes the students goals both academically and career-wise, puts the student first and at the center of the academic-career spectrum. Astin (2007) rightly noted that students continue to report that one of the major reasons they attend college is to get a better job. Integrating academic advising to career advising with clearly defined goals for the student is logical, appropriate, makes sense, and economically viable. It could also serve the university in the short and long-term as a potential lead for students who need such a transformation.

At the end of the day, the student is what matters the most and if universities and colleges are really interested in providing cutting edge education that would translate into gainful employment, the gaps between academic and career advising needs to be bridged and fully considered the student as the main focus.

Some universities have started doing more to promote career development, while students pursue their degrees, but more needs to be done given that the employment environment continues change and so should the educational systems, which seeks to prepare students for jobs out there.

The relationships and coordination between academic and career advising needs to be visible on each campus and students need to start working on career goals at the early stages of their education rather than the later.


Astin, A. W. (2007).The American freshman: National norms for fall 2006. Los Angeles: Higher Education Research Institute.  – See more at: Accessed: 11/13/2015

Gordon, V. N. (2006). Career advising: An academic advisor’s guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. – See more at: Accessed: 11/13/2015

Australia ranks number one with the most organically farmed land in the world

Written by: Lara Webster, Updated 27 Oct 2015, 11:41pm

As the world population continues to grow, Australia could capitalise on organic export markets, says Bond University sustainability professor Tor Hundloe.

AUDIO: Sustainability professor Tor Hundloe explains why Australia has the most organically farmed land. (ABC Rural)

He has been investigating Australia’s role in feeding the world, with the global population predicted to hit 9.7 billion in 2050.

Through his most recent research he discovered Australia had the most organically farmed land in the world: more than five times that of Argentina who came in second on the list.

“We are a very large continent and much of Australia is semi-arid or arid.

“On that land chemicals have never been used, fertilisers have never been used, pesticides, so it’s basically virgin country, organic country, as it is,” he said.

“We’ve [also] got land that is fairly easily converted from conventional farming back to organic, and I’m thinking about dairying country where that land can revert to being organic.”

He said the potential to produce greater amounts of organic food was of huge benefit to Australian farmers.

Anywhere where there were dairy farms… they are ideal farms for the small scale, intensive, organic farming.

Professor Tor Hundloe

Professor Hundloe said he had been watching trends overseas and there was a steady increase in the number of people who wanted to buy “cleaner, greener” food.

“We’ve got a good chance of feeding those wealthier people in China and South East Asia.

“They’re demanding the sort of product we have [such as] good, clean beef, milk and cereal,” said Professor Hundloe.

“When our fruit and vegetables are coming on in summer it is winter in northern Asia and we can supply fruit and vegetables into those markets.

“We predict China is going to produce an enormous amount of beef as the middle class of China becomes richer.

“We are in a beaut position to capitalise on export markets.”

Organic marketing a hurdle

While there have been supply shortages domestically for organic food, Professor Hundloe said there was actually more organic food available than people knew.

He said the problem was marketing.

“We’re just not labelling enough of it [food] as organic,” Professor Hundloe said.

To further understand the role of organic farming in future food production, Professor Hundloe will travel throughout Australia with three students.

The team has already travelled throughout Central Queensland and interviewed a number of large-scale organic beef and sheep producers.

Now they are headed south, to south-east Queensland, to speak with small-scale, organic farmers in the Gympie and Mary Valley region.

“Gympie is on the list because the old dairy industry around Gympie has changed dramatically, and that land has been taken over by small scale beef farmers, pig farmers [and] fruit and vegetable farmers,” Professor Hundloe said.

“Gympie is very close to the Sunshine Coast which is a prime market for organic food.

“It is close to Brisbane so it is the perfect place for the small scale, organic farming industry in Australia.

He said there were many other farming communities throughout the nation which would be able to make the same transition Gympie has seen.

“Anywhere down into New South Wales and Victoria, Tasmania and over in the west too.

“Anywhere where there were dairy farms… they are ideal farms for the small scale, intensive, organic farming.”

Article Disclaimer: This article was published at ABC and was retrieved on 11/10/2015 for information and education purposes only. The views and thoughts expressed in this article remains those of the author. Please cite the original source and INDESEEM accordingly.


12 Course Areas You Might Want to take Enhance Employability Prior to Graduation

Field-Based Teaching & Research, Lao PDR 2014

In today’s economy and with the number of graduates each year, employment post-graduation is what every prospective and recent graduates contemplate on as the day approach for that final moment and as the student loan repayment period gets activated. So, before you start receiving those pretty letters in the mail of the so-called reminder, getting your feet down as soon as possible is very essential. It takes about 6 months depending on several factors to get a job after graduation; that is, if you start searching immediately prior to or after graduation like a squirrel gathering nuts before the fall ends in preparation for the winter months ahead.

But, if you are still in school or planning to go back to school, don’t waste time on courses that would limit or restrict your chances of employment after graduation. Apart from the degree required core course requirements, use your elective courses for skills or theory-based courses that could increase your chances of employment by serving as a opportunity to learn new skills that can be built on. Employers look at a wide range of qualities in prospective jobs applicants in order to make a decision.

Prior job experience, which seems to be the most important and salient predictor of employment apart from education, the skills that you possess are also very important in the eyes of employers.

Generally, skills are what we used on the job to get the job done, which we highly linked to our past experiences. Overtime, we developed new skills and also improve on old ones while on the job. Thus, while some skills are learned on the job, others can be learned while in school or at your own timing, will and motivation.  When you have time, try visiting YouTube and learn new skills by following closely on tutorials videos that might interest you. Those skills learned while in college are as important as those learned on the job. However, always practice to avoid forgetting. The more you practice the more you become superb.

Education is the key to everything we do. From the time we were born until the day we meet our maker, life is an educational adventure full with positive and negative lessons from which we repeatedly learn and relearn. Education never ends and don’t be fooled that by the time you receive your degree; that’s it. There is a reason when you graduate, the occasion is called commencement.  When you graduate from a specific program, you are actually just starting, thus, you are “commencing.” Thus, the process continues and it only ends the day we kick the bucket.

There are various ways in which we can learn. We learn formally, informally and non-formally. However, in today’s world formal education is a paramount recipe to success. I am not legitimizing that those who learn non-formally or informally aren’t successful or that only formal education folks experience success.

Success is a relative term and it highly depends on hard work, motivation, focus, determination, and fairness. Some would argue that not all successful people pass through the lenses of these attributes. To some, what is consider success was given to them via their birth right; that is, they were born into success. For the most part, about 95% of the rest of us have to make success what we consider success to be. Thus, don’t think that there is a formula for success, because it is dynamic and depends on us. Even if success has formula, that would highly depend on us.

How success is define remains a subjective matter because we all view success differently. To some, success means receiving a meaningful education, others success means having a family they love and care about, while to others success could mean spending their time doing wonderful things in their neighborhoods to bring about peace, social justice and community development. Others view success relative to wealth and riches, while some consider success as having a great job. Yet to some, success means having their daily bread each day at the time with no waste. No matter how we conceptualize success, education is an important ingredient that could assist us achieve the success we dream off.

Personally, I view success as having an education which my siblings were not fortunate to receive, a family that I love and care for and also reciprocating the good things back to others who need assistance.

I was very lucky to be able to achieve a wonderful education after years as a refugee. The education I had today influence the decisions that I make each and every day along with common sense. But, do we sometime ask ourselves where in the educational spectrum (e.g. theory vs. applied, science vs. art) would I like to focus during my studies that would serve as a plus after my studies when seeking a job.

When I was completing my undergraduate and graduate studies, I always asked myself this question. What courses should I take that would make a big difference out there after graduation? Which courses do I have prior knowledge in that I can build on during this time of my studies? What new can I learn from other courses? Should I focus on more theory based courses compared to skill-based (applied) courses? Upon graduation, where would I like to spend my time working? In the office or at the field? In the classroom or at the clinic or hospital setting? These basic questions help you navigate your true desire for work after your college/university.

For me, I always saw myself out there in the field directly impacting the lives of those I work with and their knowledge, experiences and skills directly impacting me. With that said, whether you end up at the field working or cubed in an office setting, conditions at the time depicts your preferences of what sort of job you might land. So, unless you set that as the default preference to either seek only an office-oriented job or field-based jobs depends on you. For a matter fact, you are the one that’s going to be responsible for whatever commitment you made and should be comfortable with your choice. However, with the difficulties in getting a job it is more likely we might lax our desire to be too rigid with our desire. You can grab what is offer, if you like it, and use that to look for the stars. Never say no to an opportunity, but sometimes, saying no might be the right thing to do.

So while in school, I kept very close to both desires taking courses that facilitated skills development as well as those courses that enhance my conceptual understanding of simple to complex issues.

However, in today’s workplace, apart from your experience, employers are more interested in skills. If your credential are full with too many theory-based knowledge, you might have a job, but it might take a longer time than the average to get employ. Even though this might not be the case with everyone, having more skills could increase your chances of being employed quickly than your counterpart with a lot of theoretical background. It should be emphasized that even though skills are relevant, but experiences also matter the most.

So, if you are planning to attend graduate school in the next few months or you are already in there, after completing the required theory-based courses for your degree, I would encourage you to focus more on skill-based courses. The reason is that during these courses you get to learn a lot and if you continue to utilize those skills after classes end and is true to yourself, finding a job could be pretty easy, if not, quickly.

Even if you don’t have that much experience, the skills you’ve developed could still play an integral role in getting you hired! You could start at the Entry Level, if you have little to no experience and climb the ladder gradually or could get started by applying to mid-career positions, if you have the equivalent experiences and the relevant sets of skills.

I will now try to highlight some of the skills you might want to develop or enhance while in school. Not to forget, always do your best to attend any skill-based professional development workshop that is free or that you could attend, if funded. If you learn of a skill-based workshop and would like to attend for a good cause, you might be able to solicit funding to attend by contacting your student leadership organization on campus or talk to someone at your department or your supervisor. Always ask someone because the answers are out there ready to be explored. Not asking limits and prevents us from exploring our options.

  1. Monitoring & Evaluation Skills

If you conduct a quick search for jobs in the monitoring and evaluation sector, you will come to realize that the emphasis in most instances in the job description will focus more on the skills and experiences spectrum. Even though some M&E job functions could highlight the need for policy knowledge, the underlying issue is that you need to know and understand the science and art of conducting M&E. So, before you get out of graduate school make sure you take a course in M&E.

2. Project Management

As the name depicts, project management is a crucial skill to learn. While an entire degree awarding program can be done in PM, taking a course, if that’s your only option, could help you develop the essential skills needed to plan, initiate, implement, control, and close a project. In this course, you could also learn how to develop a project proposal as well as grant writing, if your project requires seeking grants. There are lots of jobs were these skills are major aspects that are considered by the hiring managers. Even though planning is totally a separate kind of skill, project management involves a lot of planning and iterations.

Also, if you take an intensive project management course, one skill you might developed as part of the course is grant writing. Depending on your financial status, I would recommend taking a grant writing course either as a full or half credit.

Grant writing involves a unique form of writing and the ability to persuade your audience about the need to fund a particular project. This process requires good writing, a lot of review and editing.

3. Statistics

Statistics may sound boring to some because it requires a lot of work with numbers and making sense of numbers to facilitate decisions.

In the business and financial sectors, having advance statistical skills even if you don’t have a degree in statistics, but the skills and experiences you could see yourself doing exactly what others purely trained and educated could be doing.

I encourage you to break the anti-statistics spirit and go for it. Now a days, a lot of the calculations are done with advance software installed on a computer. All you need to do is apply your understanding of the principles of numbers and statistics to make decision that could transform your organization.

4. Research

Similarly, research is an important skills to learn and master. Usually, there are several opportunities on campuses where professors hire students as Research Assistants (RAs) on a given project. I want to encourage to look for these opportunities as they not advance your research skills, but also expand your experiences. You could also do a research project towards your final thesis.

However, learning both the theoretical aspects of research and how research is actually done are very important matters. We should always bridge the gap between theory and practice.

5. Social Entrepreneurship

Today, entrepreneurs are all over the place. You can take a course or two in entrepreneurship to help you develop the knowledge and skills needed. I have few friends, who after graduating went on to established their own organizations. Today, those folks are doing a great job and putting their dreams into action. You can be your own employer. Isn’t that awesome?

6. Organizational/Non-Profit Management

Management is a very important skill to learn. Again, while an entire degree program requirement could be focused on just organization and or non-profit management learning these skills will pay back in subsequent time. Also, non-profit management is a big business and if you learn it well and is good at it you could land to great places.

7. Geographic Information System

Geographic Information System (GIS) involves a lot of different areas of focus. Learning GIS widens your chances of employment, but remember to keep refreshing yourself as people have the tendency of forgetting what they learned.

A lot of organization in the private and public sectors are now applying GIS capabilities to the way in which they make decision and operate. Thus, learning the basics or advanced GIS allows you to reach out more into the employment spectrum and stand out…brave!

8. Business, Finance and Management

I group these into one bucket not because they seem to be the same, but are very different areas of expertise.

Now a days, you need to have some sort of business knowledge to run even a small project or organization. This also applies to the finance aspect as well. It is very important that you have some kind of relevant previous knowledge and understanding of business and finance. While both fields are complex and contain different areas of specialization, getting the basics provide you with the edge against other job seekers who don’t.

I am not talking about getting a degree or CPA or CFA here, if that is not the central focus of your degree program requirement. What I am talking about is that consider yourself a Project Manager for example. While the finances of a given project you are working on might be handled by someone linked directly to the project team or the Project Management Office (PMO) of your organization or a donor agency, understanding how the finances and business aspects of the project are documented, communicated and analyzed is very important to you as the project manager.

The project manager is the  one in charge of the project and he/she should have a FULL understanding of all aspects of the project. The Project Manager is like the black box of project management.

9. Policy Research & Analysis

Policy research and analysis are skills that you might need, if you are interested in working directly with institutions, organizations and governments involved in policy issues. This relates back to the previous point made about developing your research base.

There are some really great jobs out there for which organizations are seeking individuals with policy analyses experiences and skills sets. Though taking one or two courses in policy research and analysis might not necessarily enhance your skills all that much, doing a lot of personal research on various policies of interests could expand your knowledge, views and serves as an opportunity that employers could see your ultimate career interest.

10. Decision Methods/Science

Decision is what makes an organization functions and operates in accordance with stated goals and objectives. Typically, decisions involve complex processes from the stakeholders directly to those managing projects and down to the project benefactors.

Decisions have to be made along all those lines. Decisions can be derived using advanced analytics or other forms of statistical inferences and methods.

Today, organizations from around the world are in search for individuals with expertise in decisions sciences and analytics. Courses with connections to decision science should be encouraged across all curriculum.

11. Professional Communications

Communications in the workplace is paramount to individual success, performance and the attainment of goals and objectives. Professional communication is the ability to communicate to others via whatever channel necessary and keeping a tracking systems, which allows you to monitor your inbound and outbound contacts, while staying focus on other aspect. As you grow professionally, there are so much things you will learn along the lines of communications in the workplace. It is very important.

12. Teaching

Not everyone is a teacher. Teaching is an art and also a science. While you might not want to be a teacher by profession. There are certain attributes of teaching that can be transferred to other job functions. Some attributes of teaching that can be transferred to other jobs include being patient, coaching, mentoring, training, tutoring, leading, demonstrating, presenting ideas with the emphasis to communicate knowledge and facilitate learning.

So, even though you are not planning to be a classroom teacher by the traditional sense of the word teaching, you can use all the excellent attributes as a teacher in jobs like: Training Coordinator, Education Coordinator/Manager, Tutor/Mentor, Trainer, etc. I think you get the big picture already.

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