A Message For Future IEDPers: With Love, From the GAs

Dear Readers,

We are done with two wonderful semesters of the IEDP and are unable to fathom how quickly it went by. Some of us are gearing up for Summer courses, some are planning itineraries for their internships, and some are graduating already! It is a bittersweet feeling; we are excited about thriving in the world outside of Penn and also nostalgic about our memories in it. Nevertheless, we embark on the next phase of our journeys, having faith in the skill set, networks, and perspectives we have gained and built over the past year.

The Graduate Assistants of the program share some valuable insights on the same:

Hi! I am from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. I joined the IEDP because I am most drawn to improving the quality of higher education for Mongolian youth. One of my key takeaways from my experience in the program is that it is sometimes okay not to be the ‘best’, academically. The IEDP emphasizes collaboration and peer learning by leveraging the collective experience of the cohort. Learn as much as you can from one another and know that the learning curve looks different for everyone. Do celebrate your achievements and keep moving forward. I promise it will be a lot of fun (and a lot of assignments!)

Hello there! I am from Delhi (India) and Singapore. In the world of Education Development, I am passionate about SRHR (sexual and reproductive health & rights). The IEDP provided me with the academic grounding to my experience of working in this area for eight years. Being a full-time grad student gave me the much-needed time away from my usual work setting to assess my strengths and areas of improvement and the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. A word of advice for the incoming cohort: pick your people wisely and surround yourself with kind and encouraging friends. The program can be challenging and having a support system makes a world of a difference. More pro-tips:
– Study but also explore the many amazing things to do at Penn and Philly.
– Take the free group classes at the Penn gym
– Always ask for help when you need it.
– It is never too early to start working on an assignment!

Hey! I am from Hanoi, Vietnam. Through the IEDP, I wanted to explore my key interest areas: girl’s education, socio-emotional learning, and alternative assessments. Looking back, I realize the importance of pacing yourself in this program. This means prioritizing important tasks and also budgeting in time for self-care. Work-life balance, or in our case, study-life balance, is essential to e able to give your best. I have also learnt that the people are everything. Surround yourself with good people who support you and celebrate your wins. They keep you going through tough times!

Namste! I am from India and Qatar. Challenging problem statements excite me and in international education development, there are plenty. I am keen on creating safe, relevant, and enjoyable learning experiences for all. The program built on my work experience in this area and expanded my understanding of it greatly. I loved how I could curate my own academic journey and explore my areas of interests in every course I took up. The community, the place, and the grad school experience contributed greatly to my personal growth too.

I came back to school after five years of working in the sector – you need to be mentally prepared for this shift. I bit off way more than I could chew and grossly underestimated the academic work load. The program forced me to re-evaluate my priorities, especially when I neglected my health. If you are not taking care of yourself, you cannot be your best self in or outside of the classroom! I strongly advice new IEDPers to talk to your professors and alumni to understand what is and is not do-able. You can count on the IEDP community to have your back every step of the way!

Hi there! I am from Kisumu, Kenya. I am passionate about pedagogical transformations to end child poverty. My IEDP experience was an intersection of career growing interactions, self introspection and scholarly guidance/ support. I couldn’t be more grateful to the community of professors and friends who become family. What I believe I’ve taken away with me is that; academically, in the words of Dr. Wolf, “universality doesn’t mean uniformity”. I mean that this lends itself to more inquiry especially in our careers full of nuanced contexts. Personally, I am humbled by the discourse that I engaged with colleagues and professors— the word that has been reverend time to time has been vitality. I’ve learned to find my vitality with support of colleagues, family and friends. Academic spaces can be overwhelming to say the least and that can sip into your personal life if there are no boundaries, breaks and balance. For me,being part of a church orchestra gave me the fresh energy – Monday practices and Sunday dazzles. Just lovely! Don’t go a day without music. Tune in and dance your way through graduate experience!

On that note, we wish our fellow cohort members the best of luck for the coming months. For our incoming cohorts, we are here to cheer you on and promise you an incredible learning experience from the best and with the best at the IEDP.

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