Right now, several of you are probably mulling over the question of what graduate school to pick, wondering what will make for the best learning experience. If you’re considering HGSE as one of your top choices, you’ve probably already seen a number of reasons why you should come through this blog — carefully curated classes, brilliant peers who push you to learn every day, and a ton of resources around campus that can speak directly to your interests. When classes are in session, it is of course a great time to learn, but I realized this spring break that at HGSE, learning continues well beyond the classroom and into the wider communities that we are a part of.
My classmates and I did very different things over spring break — some of us went halfway across the world, others went home and a number of us stayed in Cambridge — but we all used the time in similar ways: to relax, catch up on schoolwork, and figure out what we’re doing after graduation. At HGSE, as I heard a friend say the other day, even during our breaks we aim to be productive and make the most of a year-long program, and a good portion of the break was spent either writing cover letters or worrying about which jobs to apply to.
Another great way to figure out what you might want to do after graduation, especially if you’re considering moving to a new region, is to participate in a study trek over spring break. There are several organized by student associations at the graduate schools — such as the Israel/Palestine trek, the North Korea trek and the Ecuador trek by students at the Kennedy School, and the Kenya trek by students at the Law School. I was very lucky to be a part of the African Law Association’s Kenya trek this year, and found that I’d learnt so much more than I anticipated over the course of a single week.
In Kenya, we had the opportunity to meet with a wide variety of people, ranging from Save the Children and the Busara Center for Behavioral Economics, to clerks at the Supreme Court. We also visited the office of PAWA254, a really interesting space that brings together artists of all kinds — photographers, journalists, musicians, graffiti artists and poets — to spark social change. Of course, the trip wouldn’t have been complete without a game drive around Nairobi’s national park, a visit to the elephant orphanage (featuring so many adorable baby elephants like this one!) and an incredible sunset boat ride at Lake Naivasha.
As someone who is considering moving to east Africa after graduation, the Kenya trek was incredibly helpful for me to get a better sense of what it would be like to live and work there, as well as current perspectives on various political and social issues. Even for those of you who are quite certain about what you might want to do/where you might want to be after you graduate, it is definitely a great idea to plan a study trek to a region of the world you are interested in learning more about!
Kim Fernandes is a Master’s candidate in the International Education Policy program. Having taught previously in Mumbai, Kim hopes to return to India after graduation to support government and low-income private schools.