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Read the stories of our alumni specialized in Africa here.

Robin Breedeveld

Alumni dreams #221

Robin chose to focus on Africa when starting International Studies, as it is “arguably one of the most diverse and complex continents in the world, but also perhaps one of the most understudied.” In addition, she recognizes that there are a lot of assumptions and stereotypes about the continent that are perpetuated in Europe, which made her eager to study it to try and debunk and challenge some of these assumptions.

One of the highlights of her study time at the BA was becoming fluent in Swahili. She studied hard in class but also took the extra step of travelling to Kenya and Tanzania to practice. Currently she is still able to use Swahili daily while living in South Africa. As Robin graduated during the pandemic, she extended her bachelor for half a year, to allow herself the time to think about future steps. During those six months, she completed a minor at the International Institute of Social Studies and worked parttime for the INCLUDE Knowledge Platform.

After graduation she was admitted to the University of Cape Town for a master’s in Development Studies. Currently, she is in the process of writing her dissertation. She researches how the nature reserves Rondevlei and Zeekoevlei, bordering township neighborhoods in Cape Town, affect people’s interaction with nature and how conservation possibly contributes to the marginalization of the surrounding inhabitants.

Next to her studies, Robin tutors first year sociology students and works for a farmer and activist based in the Philippi Horticultural Area who fights for food security in Cape Town’s townships and environmental justice. She also volunteers for Diabetes South Africa in her spare time, being a type 1 diabetic herself.

We applaud your drive to making a difference Robin, and look forward to see what you will do after your studies!

Alumni dreams #230

Emma chose to study International Studies due to the interdisciplinary approach of the programme. She spent around eight months working in Windhoek, Namibia, before enrolling into the BA, which later informed her decision to focus on the region of Africa.

Some of the most important experiences that she took from International Studies were her activities in the BASIS Africa Committee, starting out as vice president and eventually becoming the president of the committee. The committee had the opportunity to organize many exciting events, including an African Literature book club and a variety of guest lectures. In addition, Emma was also a part of the Honors College ‘Tackling Global Challenges’. A class on Dying and End of Life Care in Leiden left a deep impression on her, especially after visiting a hospice in Leiden and discussing the ethics of end of life care with the director and residents.

To complete the mandatory internship of the Honors College track, Emma interned with EnableMe Foundation, an organization focused on disability awareness and accessibility. After the completion of the internship, Emma was offered a position as Global Community Manager, in which she is still working today. 

Emma ended up graduating in two regions: Africa as well as the Middle East. After graduating from Leiden University, she started her MSc in Global Migration at University College London. The decision to focus on migration in her postgraduate studies was a result of the impressions that different guest lectures in the regional classes of International Studies left, as well as the classes in the Global Migration minor she pursued at the University of Amsterdam. 

Currently, Emma is enrolled in the Erasmus Mundus MA ‘Migrations Transnationales’ based at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. At this moment, she is in her third semester, studying at Universidad de Granada in Spain, out of the four-semester programme. For her last semester, Emma will return to Brussels to write and defend her MA thesis. 

“Something I did not really realize when applying for the BA and started the programme was how many opportunities the program offers. Taking extracurricular classes, including language classes, is a real asset and certainly something to explore further.”

Enjoy the rich MITRA experience Emma, and we look forward to following your career steps in the future!

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