You are currently viewing Interview with a student – Gift Onyinyechi Oparah

Interview with a student – Gift Onyinyechi Oparah

What Motivated You to Apply to This Program?

The COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impact on education, especially for underprivileged children and youth, motivated me to apply to this program. The decision to close schools and transition to online learning, although important for safety, had terrible effects on the education of children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Many children dropped out of school due to their inability to access the necessary devices to continue their studies. Schools and teachers were equally unprepared for the transition, as there were no adequate resources to facilitate online learning.

Furthermore, during my NYSC community development service, I witnessed firsthand the lack of resources and support available to academically gifted children from disadvantaged backgrounds. This experience stoked my enthusiasm for transforming education in Africa and my home country, Nigeria.

In addition to my strong commitment to helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds, the learning goals, career opportunities, and global nature of the FLOURISH program align perfectly with my future aspirations. The prospect of studying at prestigious universities around the world, meeting diverse people, and experiencing different cultures is deeply exciting to me. Furthermore, the recognition and self-fulfillment of being awarded the esteemed Erasmus Mundus Scholarship further motivates me to pursue this program.

How Was Your Experience in the First Year of the Program in General?

My experience in the first year of the program was exciting, spanning academic, social, and cultural aspects.

Academically, I gained a deeper understanding of the concepts and definitions of resilience, realizing that it is not just about the person but also about society, which has helped to mold who I am. The engaging course modules expanded my knowledge of how educational environments can support children in navigating adversity. I particularly appreciated the continuous support and guidance from the program’s professors, who have helped ensure my academic success through accommodations, visa assistance, and a focus on paper-writing assessments.

On the social and cultural front, the opportunity to travel and study abroad has been incredibly enriching. I have had the privilege to meet people from diverse backgrounds, discover new cultures, learn new languages, and enjoy fascinating historical and archaeological spaces. Participating in Erasmus Mundus Student Network events has also been a highlight, allowing me to connect with my fellow students and engage with the broader program community.

Which Specific Areas/Components/Courses Did You Find Most Interesting and Relevant?

For me, every course has been extremely relevant. However, I was particularly interested in the topics of mental health, socio-emotions, family, trauma, bullying, sense of belonging, inclusive and exclusive learning, disabilities, and migration. I was particularly fascinated by how the program applied ecological systems theory to examine these critical issues facing vulnerable and marginalized children and young people. This holistic, contextual approach to understanding and promoting resilience was extremely compelling to me.

Courses that delved into these areas, such as those examining the psychological and social factors impacting child and youth development, were standouts. I appreciated the program’s emphasis on taking a multidimensional view to address the complex challenges faced by the populations we aim to support through this degree.

Finally, I would like to express my admiration for the FLOURISH program’s dedication to providing students with an incredible educational experience that encompasses rich social and cultural experiences beyond the classroom.