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Global Scholar Update
Greetings from Katie Isaf, Our D6900 Scholar at Wageningen University and Research Center

Above: Enjoying time with fellow students; Below: Our sailboat for the Rotary Event in Sneek.

Above: Enjoying time with fellow students; Below: Our sailboat for the Rotary Event in Sneek.

Katie Isaf is one of our District's Global Scholars, studying for her masters in International Land and Water Management at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Our contributions to The Rotary Foundation help to make our participation in this program possible. We are sharing photos and excerpts from her mid-year progress report. Start thinking now about whether you have a young person in your area who would make a great Rotary Scholar - the scholarship is awarded for graduate studies in one of Rotary's six areas of focus. For more information, contact Kathy Brandt. We will publish an article with more of the specific requirements in the March newsletter. For now, enjoy Katherine's update ...

My Studies

My choice to return to the classroom was in large part inspired and driven by the gaps I discovered during my three years working as a “professional” in [international] community development. In my previous roles for example, I was limited to un-specialized evaluator work on agricultural production, natural resource management, and sanitation projects. Now having completed five classes in land and water management from an international university, I can clearly see how much I lacked before in understanding the past, present, and future developments in rural development and agriculture. I am quite obviously shifting from a “generalist” in economic and community development, to having an expertise in water delivery, land use, and resource accessibility.

At this point in my studies, I do still share many of the same career ambitions as I shared in my original application. I can see myself working for an international consultancy or organization that has a user-focused strategy in rural development and agricultural innovations. I am encouraged by the focus of my chosen specialization in Irrigation and Water Management; the department shows a commitment to human-centered designs and teaching ways to collaborate with farmers and rural communities in order to make systems (water and economic) work for them and for the environment.

My Rotary Experience

I have been more than welcomed by the Rotary community in Wageningen, and I have greatly appreciated their un-conditional invitation to many events and meetings. Simultaneously, though, they are supportive of my school work and are understanding in my priorities as a student. As a nice balance to my university life here, I have participated in something Rotary-related more-or-less each month that I’ve been in The Netherlands.

The weekend after I arrived, I was invited to join the club’s summer “Botary” outing. The outing involved a full day sailing in Sneek, a town in the northern region of the country. I spent much of the day with Henk’s family and friends, which was wonderful. The event was a perfect introduction to The Netherlands, as we had hours to discuss language and culture and to enjoy the landscape and traditional food.

I have also attended many club meetings – and Eric has been forwarding me the club bulletin. I have learned about the club’s projects and goals, such as a new initiative to offer their professional services pro-bono to community members who may not have the connections or financial access to such skills. And, I had dinner at Henk’s home, where I had a fabulous conversation with him, his wife Karen, and her daughter, Gedi. My semester was almost over, so we had fun discussing all my new perspectives and understandings from my studies in Wageningen. Additionally, Karen worked as professional in community development in Kenya for a number of years, and I asked her a lot about those experiences.

Posted by Kathy Brandt
February 5, 2018

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