By Aydn Parrott
“Studying abroad is an intense experience. You are far from home, far from familiarity. Yet, being an ‘outsider’ can teach you more about yourself”Sasheenie Moodley, Rotary Scholar
Sasheenie Moodley is a South African who completed her studies in the United States and is currently completing a PhD in African Studies at the University of Oxford with support from the Rotary Global Grant Scholarship.
Asked about her long-term goals she says, “That is a very long time away,” but concedes that in an ideal world she would have 36 hours in a day.
Sasheenie hopes to teach at a medical school. She explains, “this would help me spend time with paediatric patients in clinics and teaching graduate students, and then also work with HIV-positive and HIV-negative pregnant teenagers and teenage mothers in resource-constrained communities.”
The latter has been her focus during her PhD research. “I’ve come to see that clinical practice and social research are two sides of the same coin,” Sasheenie says. She adds that she “would also need the ability to time travel so I can quickly move between communities I love in South Africa, the USA, and the UK”.
Speaking about her scholarship experience, Sasheenie says, “with Rotary’s gracious support, I have been able to pursue my PhD at the University of Oxford in the UK. This was beyond dreams!”
“It is still quite surreal that I have the privilege of doing this every day,” says Sasheenie, “moreover, Rotary has provided an incredibly supportive community through fellow scholars and life-long Rotarians with whom I could engage during my studies.”
Sasheenie explains that the Rotary community of fellows is especially valuable for her PhD. “A PhD can be lonely at the best of times,” Sasheenie says. But being a Rotary Scholar helped her connect and make meaning of her time in a new community. “Thank you Rotary!” she gushes.
“I expected to meet incredible young women during my fieldwork,” Sasheenie says. She says these young women are doing everything they can to make the most of being young mothers.
“What I did not expect was meeting amazing humanitarians in the Rotarians and my fellow Global Grant Scholars” says Sasheenie, who is being hosted by Rotary District 7610 (in the USA) and District 1090 (in the UK).
Within the UK, Sasheenie had the privilege of spending time with the Marlow-Thames Rotary Club whose members, she says, taught her about life and its many joys. “I will always cherish these memories,” she says.
“I have been connected to Rotarians around the world, in every age group and profession,” Sasheenie explains. She adds, “I believe in the work Rotary does, especially their focus on ‘disease prevention’ and ‘mother-to-child empowerment’.”
Through her work, Sasheenie says, “I wanted to make a small contribution to their global efforts as an ambassador.” Sasheenie says she wants to be a proponent of the philosophy of ‘learn more about a community so you can work with them and not for them’.
Sasheenie says, “studying abroad is an intense experience. You are far from home, far from familiarity.” She says this can be a valuable experience as “being an ‘outsider’ can teach you more about yourself and the way you think than you might already know.”
Sasheenie encourages those who are looking to challenge their own prejudices to apply for international scholarships. She says, “you will learn more than you wanted to – and that is a very good thing! At least, this is what happened to me!”
Aydn Parrott is a freelance writer and storyteller. He represents Africademics as a University Ambassador at Stellenbosch University and runs the ‘Power of Thought’ blog: https://powerofthoughtblog.wordpress.com/