Despite the language barrier, I graduated on time


 By Hanaa Tharwat Mohamed Ibrahim

Hanaa

My name is Hanaa Tharwat Mohamed Ibrahim and I come from Sudan. I hold a Bachelor of Agricultural Science in Soil and Water Science from the University of Gezira which I obtained in March 2009. After my graduation, I worked as an Assistant at the Agricultural Research Corporation in Sudan in the laboratory of the Land and Water Research Center from 2009 to 2012. I then took up a position as a Cooperative (part-time) Lecturer at the University of Gezira from 2012 to 2013. These two opportunities at the beginning of my career exposed me to academia and I developed an interest in furthering my studies.

Although scholarships were rare, I was very fortunate and did not have to wait too long. In 2013, shortly after my appointment as Cooperative Lecturer at the University of Gezira, I was awarded a full scholarship to pursue a Master of Science in Agro-Meteorology and Natural Risk Management at the University of Haramaya in Ethiopia. The scholarship was awarded by the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM).

Pursuing a degree outside my home country was a life changing experience. The first year was particularly hard because it was not just my first time to study outside Sudan, but my first outside my hometown, because all my previous education had been within the same city in Sudan. I could not speak nor understand English well, so I had to work extra hard to improve my language skills in the first year. I am so grateful to my lecturers and colleagues who helped and encouraged me along the way. It is unbelievable that despite my initial challenge – the language barrier, I still managed to complete the course within two years. I graduated in July 2015.

Studying abroad also gave me great experiences. I discovered new foods, traditions and social atmospheres. My understanding and appreciation of nations -including my own country, their people and history greatly improved, and I now appreciate the importance of sovereignty. One of the biggest benefits of my time abroad was the opportunity to make new friends from different countries and backgrounds, which also helped me discover myself as I got a better understanding of different cultures. As a young woman, the idea of being in a new place by myself was overwhelming not only to me, but also my family. The situation tested my ability to adapt to diverse situations while improving my skills and making a contribution to society.

For my research, I identified a problem that was linked and contextualized to Ethiopian communities so that I could make a humble contribution to the communities I worked with.  My thesis was on “Evaluation of organic agriculture practices and resources use as adaptation to climate change in Sofi District, Harar Regional State, Ethiopia”. Recommendations from this research can be deployed to solve challenges of resource use efficiency at smallholder level.

Following completion of my master’s course, RUFORUM awarded me a Field Attachment Program Award (FAPA) in August 2016. This was in addition to the scholarship that facilitated my masters training and research. The FAPA was to support work on “Promotion of organic farming through training and information sharing for safe nutrition and poverty alleviation: case study of Gezira State of Sudan”. Through this award I have been able to work with communities back home in Sudan to customize and disseminate recommendations from the research that I conducted in Ethiopia.

It amazes me how much I have learnt and the experiences I have gained through the master’s training abroad and the FAPA. The knowledge and skills gained have equipped me for lifelong learning and service in agriculture. I am committed to deploying this knowledge not only to my benefit, but also the benefit of the communities around me.

Currently, I am back at the Agriculture Research Corporation working as an Assistant Researcher in the Land and Water Research Center, but because of RUFORUM I believe I will soon become a full researcher

Thank you RUFORUM!

Contact email: hanaatharwat26@hotmail.com

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