What made you want to work in international development?
My background is in economics, and as an undergraduate student I worked in the human rights field with a focus on human rights education, and women’s and immigrants’ rights. I realized that many of the human rights violations I learned about could have been prevented through improved development practices: effective allocation of resources, educational opportunities, or better economic conditions. During these internships, I started to see the link between economics and human rights, and the link is development.
I was really interested in getting to know East Africa, and working with a local team. I had done some international development work in the United States, but work feels even more meaningful when you have a better understanding of the country you are working with. I also like that Laterite has a diverse set of projects and really thinks outside the box when it comes to collecting data, using different approaches like SMS data collection and focus group discussions. It was important to me to do work that is evidence-based.
What did you like about working at Laterite?
I really liked that there is a lot of room to be creative and to learn. Having just completed my Masters in Economics from the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics, this position was a great opportunity to put the skills I had just learned – like survey design and econometric analysis – into practice. There are jobs where you can’t relate your degree to the work you’re doing, but this was a practical extension of my studies. I thought it was really cool that I got to continue learning.
I also really enjoyed meeting people from Laterite’s other offices. Everyone has such diverse stories and experiences, and you learn so much about their office and their country that it feels like you’re also there.
Have you enjoyed living in Kigali?
Yes! I knew about Rwanda through my human rights work, and a lot of people talk about how beautiful it is – but no one tells you how easy it is to live here! The adjustment period was really short, and it quickly felt like home. It’s an easy and relaxing place to live, and it’s one of the most welcoming countries I’ve experienced.
What are you going to miss?
I’ll miss the learning opportunities, and the chances to come up with interesting ideas. Laterite is very open to new ways of doing things, which I think is really unique. I’ll also miss the helping culture – everyone always has time to help you out when you need it. It’s nice to know that you don’t always have to know everything – people have a lot of diverse talents and you have a choice of experts to ask. I’ll also miss the avocados, I’ve become very used to having them every day!
The work environment has also been really special. The office community has been my overall community, and the people I work with have also become the people I spend my weekends with. I’m really going to miss being part of that.
What’s next for you?
No matter what work I’ll be doing, I think my future is going to be somewhere related to this region. It’s going to be really hard to leave the community I have been a part of here, but knowing I’ll be back in the region no matter what makes it a bit easier!