As I look back to my experience at GSID, I think it was the most important part of my academic training. I learned a great deal, both intellectually and practically during my studies at GSID. I would like to express my appreciation for all those who have contributed to developing such a fine institution.
I joined GSID in 1998, from my native Congo (Kinshasa), a typical low-income country. The beginning was extremely challenging but thanks to effective supports from my supervisor, professors and other staffs I could finally adjust into the school life. I learnt a lot, I had to. I was motivated and eager to understand the whole process of development. For this reason, I had high expectations.
I soon realized that professors at GSID were very supportive to students. I was particularly impressed by their high degree of professionalism and field-based experience as well as their cultural and intellectual flexibility. Naturally, the school's interdisciplinary curriculum provided a balance between instruction in the theoretical and the applied aspects of development. What's clear to me ?now more than 3 years after I completed my PhD from GSID? is what a good quality education I got. In particular, the analytical skills and substantive knowledge in the area of development policies have served me extremely well, then and now in my current role as a scholar.
Along the way, there were a lot of different stops and some interesting experiences, all of which were valuable, but the one I will never forget is my interaction with my seminar members and supervisor. The latter, an actively engaged mentor with up-to-date knowledge about the many requirements for all aspects of issues I was working on. From my supervisor, I also learnt that supervising foreign students goes behind the simple academic advising, but requires some dose of inter-personal communication and commitment Looking back, I think that experience defined who I am as a teacher, and taught me a new way to think about professor-student interaction.
With my seminar mates, I enjoyed the discussions about the challenges we had in common and the problems we all faced. I learnt that most of what you learn in a Ph.D. program comes from doing research on your own, working closely with your supervisors, communicating results in seminars (and attempting to publish), attending conferences, and talking to your fellow students. Soon after graduation, I missed that interaction and realized how important GSID was to my growth as a researcher.
From GSID, I had the unique opportunity to develop the freedom to think critically, independently, and to cultivate my mind to its fullest potential. Along with such benefits comes a tremendous personal responsibility?a responsibility to others, a responsibility to contribute to development, and a responsibility to teach and to serve, not only in my native country but at the global level. As a GSID graduate, this is what I perceive my role to be.
I do wish all current and future students would take advantage of the many opportunities that GSID offer and prepare themselves for future personal and international development challenges. My thoughts about GSID are unprintable. The whole experience has been awesome and I could go on for pages if you would let me, but I will leave it at this.