Author Archives: hibatallaibrahim

Why did the turkey cross the road?

If you live in Cambridge long enough, you’ll probably run into what my cohort lovingly calls “Mr. Turkey” sometime. Recently, my cohort had a lively discussion about him and we all shared our best shots of him happily roaming the streets of Cambridge.

I leave you with some of my favorite shots of Mr. Turkey:

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At the Old Burial Ground

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Venturing into the neighboring town, Somerville

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Behind a building in Harvard Yard

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On the streets of Cambridge

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At Mt. Auburn Cemetery

Oh, and why did the turkey cross the road? To prove he wasn’t a chicken.

I know you found that funny.

Hibatalla Ibrahim is a Master’s in Education candidate in the International Education Policy Program. Transitioning from marketing to international development, she has special interest in girls’ and urban refugee education. She loves cooking, writing and exercising (OK maybe not).

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Global Education Conference at HGSE

Education for Syrian refugees, educational inequality in South Africa, and teacher professionalism reform in Chile were some of the very engaging (and often difficult) topics discussed at the Global Education Conference held at HGSE. This day long affair not only served as a platform for inspiring and thought-provoking ideas, but also as a call to action. In ten minute slots, the presenters exposed urgent problems that persist in education today and proposed policy recommendations that were bold, yet firmly rooted in empirical evidence.

The Global Education Conference is the brainchild of Dr. Fernando Reimers, Ford Foundation Professor of Practice in International Education and Faculty Director of the International Education Policy program. What has now become a beloved annual tradition, Dr. Reimers invites the authors of the best papers written for A-801 Education Policy Analysis and Research in Comparative Perspective to present their findings of their semester-long research. This year, on a chilly Friday in January, the Gutman Conference Center was buzzing with participants shuffling between simultaneous sessions, talking, tweeting, and thinking about some of the most difficult issues in education today.

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One of the morning panels at the conference.

Yet, what sets the conference apart is its genuine effort to bridge the gap between practitioners and academics, thereby promoting a forward looking view of the international development arena.

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Closing panel giving their final remarks. From left to right: Dr. Reimers, Dave Offensend, Charles MacCormack, and Hans Brattskar.

The conference attendees included Charles MacCormack, former President and Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children; Hans Brattskar, Sate Secretary at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Dave Offensend, President and Chief Executive Officer at the Education Development Center (EDC); Professor Haiyan Hua, Vice-President at World Education and HGSE lecturer; and Atif Rafique, Education Specialist at UNICEF.

Each of the senior level individuals were involved in chairing one or more panels throughout the day and engaged the authors in constructive and informative dialogue. My policy recommendations for addressing the shortage of teachers in rural Sudan, for example, were closely examined and critiqued: Your focus is on new graduates, where are your recommendations for the existing teachers? Can you take your proposal to scale? Have you thought of permutations and adaptations of existing policies?

 

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Conference attendees after the conference ended.

All in all, the Global Education Conference was not merely an avenue for discussion, but a showcase of the brilliance, ingenuity, passion, and commitment of the men and women working tirelessly to improve the lives of children around the world through education. For me, it served as a powerful reminder of why I was pursing my studies here and a much needed energy boost to take on the last semester.

 

(We also recieved free pens.)

Hibatalla Ibrahim is a Master’s in Education candidate in the International Education Policy Program. Transitioning from marketing to international development, she has special interest in girls’ and urban refugee education. She loves cooking, writing and exercising (OK maybe not).

Writing from the Heart

I remember that around this time last year I attended one of my first virtual information sessions for the International Education Policy Master’s program. I was excited to have the opportunity to ask current students many burning questions about the application process.

Of these, I wanted to know how I can ‘stand out’ and make my personal statement as unique as possible. I typed my question into the chat box and eagerly waited for an answer. I recall the student telling me about “writing from the heart” as his best advice to me. I was disappointed at the time but I eventually came to consider this as one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received about my application process. And I hope to share it with a wider audience on this blog!

I think the real breakthrough for me was when I stopped framing my thinking about standing out against other applicants and started thinking about articulating my passion for education. I remember writing my personal statement while brainstorming with no particular structure or audience in mind. This was particularly liberating because I was no longer intimidated by HGSE’s institution name and instead focused on my own priorities for graduate school. That brainstorming ended up serving as a basis for my personal statement but most importantly it was an accidental therapeutic exercise. I found myself reminded that education for me was much more than a career, it was a calling.

So if you’re reading this and stressing over your personal statement, just remember to make sure to write from the heart!

Hibatalla Ibrahim is a Master’s in Education candidate in the International Education Policy Program. Transitioning from marketing to international development, she has special interest in girls’ and urban refugee education. She loves cooking, writing and exercising (OK maybe not).

Amandla!

“You have the most difficult choice […] and that is whether you are going to submit to prostitution to get the money you need to feed your younger brother or not.”

Sitting in my class last week, A-816 – Education in Armed Conflict, I broke the promise I made to myself and I felt my eyes welling with tears. This class was particularly heavy, both in content and the fact that it ran from 4 to 7 pm on Mondays, and I soon realized that I needed to learn to control my emotions to be able to get through the rest of the semester. But the short video we were watching about Mari Malek’s story about being a refugee from South Sudan hit too close to home. Being Sudanese, it was hard for me to remain removed from the story and as a Northerner, I carried the shame the civil war brought on the country of Sudan.

The end of the video sparks a compelling discussion about the ethics of using another person’s story and I’m amazed by my classmates’ commentary. One friend argues that although we take the risk of objectifying protagonists by telling stories on their behalf, it shouldn’t deter us from doing so. A sentiment Professor Dryden-Peterson echoes and builds on; she reminds us of the importance of narratives and their potential power to influence someone’s life and she asks that we seek input from those we are interviewing on how they want their story to be told and how they envision it to be utilized.

And on the subject of stories, it was time for my favorite part of the class when Sarah reads a children’s book to us,  a tradition she upholds at the end of every class. This time it’s Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson. Though I heard it a million times, Madiba’s journey from anti-apartheid revolutionary to president never seizes to inspire me. Particularly moving was the last page of the book, showing an illustration of the newly elected president with a fist up in the air and the following text:

“Amandla!” (Power!)

“Awethu!”  (To us!)

It all made sense. Power did indeed belong to the people – it came from their incredible stories.

Hibatalla Ibrahim is a Master’s in Education candidate in the International Education Policy Program. Transitioning from marketing to international development, she has special interest in girls’ and urban refugee education. She loves cooking, writing and exercising (OK maybe not).