Since this is the first blog we have to write about our research and because it is the official start-up of our research project, I would first like to introduce our lovely research team, consisting of four girls!
First of all, Karin Larson is currently pursuing a Research MA in International Relations at the University of Groningen. She grew up in a small town in Sweden, but has, apart from Groningen, also lived in London, San Diego, Stockholm, and The Hague. She has a BA in Social Anthropology and International Relations from Stockholm University, Sweden. She also has a MA in Gender and Intersectionality Studies, while working for a NGO in The Hague that monitors the International Criminal Court. While in The Hague, she also interned for the OPCW as part of her BA-degree.
Céline Martens is a fourth year student IRIO, and has been on exchange to Canada last year. There she had an amazing experience where she learned to a lot. Next to studying abroad, she has also been active at the study association Clio where she has been a member of the IRSP committee last year. Currently, she is fulfilling the PR function in the Conference Committee.
Saskia Postema, is in her third year of the BA IRIO, and is hoping to graduate this summer. She’s been abroad to Birmingham, England. Furthermore, she is also enrolled in the Honours Program, which allowed her to go to New York for summer school last August. In her first year she was part of the Introduction Committee and in her second year she was the Chairman of ClioMind.
Me, Machteld van Dijk, I am a MA IR student, specializing in European Integration, who has a Bachelor degree in North-American Studies, focusing on cultural studies. I wrote my thesis on the position of African-American homosexual men as a double-minority. Moreover, last summer, I lived in Hanoi, Vietnam, where I taught Vietnamese students about soft skills, leadership and diversity. Currently I am a member of the NGIZ-Noord board.
Although we have different pathways before, we all applied for IRSP because we want to complement our studies with more practical, yet explicitly orientated experience in the realm of NGOs/development, advocacy and diplomacy. The CHOICE project in particular stood out for us as it contributes to the strengthening and establishment of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) policy on an international level and because it wants to develop a Planning Monitoring and Evaluation (PME) framework, measuring advocacy, which is an interesting challenge. Furthermore, the research involves interviews with national and international partners (i.e. a chance to network and build contacts for future opportunities.
So, on the 29th of January, we were meeting with CHOICE in Utrecht for the first time. I was really looking forward to go to CHOICE (who are currently moving to their new location in Amsterdam in the Amnesty International building). At 07.15, we took the train since the NS warned that there would be irregularities due to the immense snowfall. Although the NS was right about the irregularities, we strangely enough haven’t seen any snow... However, we were very happy that we (finally...) arrived at 11.30 in Utrecht! The Starbucks in Zwolle made our journey a little brighter and the hilarious moments when Liesa, our lovely IRSP supervisor, tried to work on her ‘Vlog’. Although we were a little late, CHOICE gave us a warm welcome and provided us with a cup of tea and cookies!
At the start of the gathering, we briefly introduced ourselves to Stéphanie van der Wijk, who is the Partnerships Officer of CHOICE and our contact person during the research, and Chansuay van Son, who is currently an intern. They gave a presentation on their international advocacy program where we could ask questions and could discuss some of their expectations. After the official part of the meeting, we had lunch together in a more informal setting. CHOICE is a young non-governmental organization (NGO), consisting of people between the age of 16 and 29, so it was easy to communicate with them. After the delicious lunch, they introduced us to some other CHOICE’ers and said goodbye.
The next day, we travelled to Peize to start our research weekend, together with the other research groups. We were complete and could immediately start with our research strategy and the proposal that we were needed to send to CHOICE. In the beginning, it was not immediately clear how we should approach the research plan, but our supervisor, prof. Nienke de Deugd gave us some helpful advice.
At the moment, we are at the phase of planning our fieldtrip to Den Haag, Amsterdam and Utrecht, in order to interview the national partners of CHOICE. Moreover, next week, we will receive a workshop on research techniques for a PME framework from Dr. Christopher Lamont. I think I can speak on behalf of the whole research team, that we are looking forward to continue our research!
Navigate in Choice for Youth and Sexuality
Once every three weeks, one of the researchers of Choice will publish a Blog Post.