Volunteer voice: ‘I now appreciate what WUN offers researchers’

Tinashe Jakwa volunteered at the Worldwide Universities Network Conference, AGM, and Presidents Forum 2018, hosted by UWA. She is a PhD Candidate in Political Science and International Relations at the University of Western Australia (UWA). In this Q&A, Ms Jakwa explains why she volunteered, and the benefits of the experience. 

Can you briefly tell our readers about your background?

I moved to Australia in 2006 – so I’ve lived here for 12 years. I lived in Queensland and moved around a lot. I came here from Zimbabwe. My parents were looking for better opportunities for my brother and I, so that’s what brought us to Australia. From Zimbabwe I first lived in Botswana and then from Botswana I came to Australia. I arrived when I was 11 and I’m now 23 going on 24. I am where I am now thanks to the support of key figures in my life, my parents and supervisors included.

What’s your research focus?

I’m a PhD candidate in Political Science and International Relations and my research seeks to understand the causes of peacebuilding policy failures in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). My thesis is entitled, Desecuritising Africa: Examining the impacts of the ‘weak states’ policy frame on peacebuilding outcomes in the DRC.

UWA is an active WUN member. What is it like to study here?

I’m in my first year and my fourth month of my PhD studies, and I’m currently preparing for my research presentation proposal, which is my first key milestone. It is going very well. I have incredibly supportive supervisors and a wonderful support system here at UWA and that has made it quite a seamless process. I’ve been at UWA for my entire tertiary experience. My undergraduate degree was also in political science and international relations, and so was my Masters.

What made you decide to volunteer at WUN’s conference in Perth this year?

I got involved in volunteering for the WUN 2018 meeting through my supervisor, David Mickler, who is the co-chair of WUN’s Global Africa Group. He’s been a great mentor who has been taking active steps to have the students involved in the network. It’s through this that I’ve realised the value of the network, as well to the work my supervisor and others are doing within WUN. I’ve come to really appreciate what WUN has to offer to researchers.

What did you do as a volunteer?

Volunteers were available to help speakers load their presentations onto computers as needed, took microphones to speakers during plenaries, and helped delegates and VIPs find answers to their queries. Volunteer Coordinator, Susan Marie (UWA), says that, including me, there were nine researchers and students associated with UWA who volunteered. They were: Ngoc Thuy Tran, Nathan Robert, Jiayuan Chen (Jenny), Suchi Kalia, Yinka Adegboye, Gashaw Jember, Isaac Mensah, and Hui Ying Chung (Chloe).

What else has sitting in on the plenaries and other forums shown you about the importance of WUN?

I think WUN offers really strong opportunities to learn how research is done in terms of how collaborations and partnerships are formed and maintained over time. It also has the potential to include student voices in a much more substantive way; to inform priorities and the strategic directions for WUN as a network itself. I feel it’s a really good platform to engage research collaboration and, potentially as well, education and training opportunities between different universities.