Student - November 21, 2019

Cycling to the embassy

Anne van der Heijden

Who: Calum Segaar (23), MSc student of International Development Studies
What: International internship at the Dutch embassy
Wherer: Maputo, Mozambique

‘Every morning I cycled through the busy streets of Maputo, dressed for the office, to get to the embassy. They are not used to cyclists and it was always a bit of an adventure to manoeuvre my way through the chaos. After a while people started recognizing me, including my favourite street hawker, who I bought my lunch from every day. I had bajita, a bread roll with brown beans, which is a typical student snack there.


I was a Communications and Economic Diplomacy intern at the Dutch embassy. One of my responsibilities was supervising and coordinating Orange Corners, a programme with sponsors such as Heineken and Shell, which supports young entrepreneurs from Mozambique with workshops and personal guidance.

In the spring of 2019, Mozambique was hit by a hurricane. That was horrific of course, but at the same time, it gave me a chance to see from the inside what managing a climate involves. There were crisis consultations at the embassy and collaboration had to be set up at lightning speed with donor organizations like the Red Cross and the UN. I saw how difficult it is to make money and emergency aid available fast enough. It was an extraordinary insight into the higher echelons of development aid.


Normal working days

I chose this internship because I wanted to experience what it’s like to have a ‘real job’, with normal working days. And I certainly did that. But I sometimes missed working on a specific project. I was more of a mediator. I set up projects, for instance, hired an organization and analysed a problem. But it didn’t get beyond figures in a report: I wasn’t at the coalface, as it were. Sometimes I missed contact with the country; I felt as though I was living in a luxurious bubble with the expats.

It may be poor, but Mozambique is also a beautiful country. Maputo is on the Indian Ocean, just two hours’ drive from Kruger Park. The weekends were short vacations. I was amazed, by the way, to see how many Wageningen students are walking around in the country. A lot of people there have heard of Wageningen too, while there are a lot of people in the Netherlands who don’t know about the university. It was funny to see that.

Relatively safe

From the way other students reacted, I gathered that it was difficult to arrange an internship at an embassy, but I found it perfectly possible. African countries aren’t particularly on the radar of Dutch students, but it’s worth plucking up courage because there’s a big chance of success. It was a unique experience for me. The country is relatively safe and it is interesting to work in such a well-oiled organization. If you want to work in a developing country, this is a good first step towards it.’ AdH

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  • Elsard de Boer

    Hallo Calum.

    In oktober gaan wij in Mozambique wonen. In de afgelopen 5 jaar hebben wij succesvolle testen gedaan met Agroforestry in Mozambique. Wij werken samen met de lokale universiteit ISET/One World in Changalane. Via ADPP hadden wij samen met Meta Meta (NGO met Smart centre in Mozambique) in Wageningen een plan ingediend bij NUFFIC (Nederlandse organisatie voor internationalisering in onderwijs) De voorwaarde was dat het plan begeleid zou worden door een Higher Educational Institute. Bij Wageningen hebben we geprobeerd iemand te vinden maar dat mocht niet baten. Dit verbaasde ons omdat wij denken dat wij een win win plan hebben in duurzame land bouw qua opbrengst en groei mogelijkheden voor de 'small scale farmer' Ik viel van mijn stoel toen ik las:"Het verbaasde me hoeveel Wageningse studenten er in Mozambique rondlopen"
    Mogelijk heb ik verkeerd gecommuniceerd of is iedereen gewoon te druk. Heb jij tipt hoe we een succesvol project beter op de kaart kunnen krijgen? :-)