Why study development?

My title seems a quite general and I am sure students in university's throughout the country write some article on the topic on the first day of class. The reality is few of us really know why we are studying development; it could be nagging sense of injustice, it could be a specific voluntourism experience from our youth. It certainly was not for the employablility or the vast wealth we seek to accumulate, it probably wasn't related to a life time of secure living either.

So why did I choose this field? More than that why do we go to university to study this. I must admit entering my second year of unemployment has had me questioning my motives rigorously. The answer however, lies in the questioning, I never questioned it while I was studying or researching or volunteering only when I started attempting to integrate these ideas into the working world did doubts bothered me. Now there are many who will say that this is indicative of the impracticality of university to that I would have to say beyond the opportunity to read and explore new ideas, communicate with peers, debate and question and ultimately learn weren't enough reason to go to university that fact that I loved it makes it worth the debt. Furthermore the idea of myself becoming magically more successful without those years of study seems laughable to me. That really only explains why I enjoyed school so much that I pursued a masters and is likely why I will return to school one day. It does not fully explain why I am now not only unemployed but fund raising (a fancy term for begging family and friends) to support a trip to a third world nation in order to fully actualize my studies.

I think this has been the biggest question for me, why development. I hardly fit most stereotypes about my field except perhaps that I can be out spoken about world issues. The realization I came to is that perhaps I am the newest generation of development worker, on which new stereotypes will be based. I was brought up in a family from other places, from the third world, who were there when independence was gained and freedoms won. I was brought up on nostalgia for idyllic places where my parents grew up. But also on the idea that these places no longer exist. Which is true, but they never did. Nonetheless, the loss of these places due to external and social realities probably always struck me as sad.  Studying development is not only about injustice in the world at large but what a child's mind must have seen as an injustice closer to home, a loss of something in my family. Perhaps that's why going to Guyana so appeals to me. The opportunity to see what lies between the good of the past and the dangers of the modern. I am not suggesting that my families perceptions of dangers is false but rather that building new lives requires a certain loss, and coping with loss demands new rationality. I study development because I hope to restore a reality from a memory that is not even my own. I study development because of pride in my family history and a desperate need to make that history part of myself.


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