Wow that was fast! On Wednesday, I announced we’ll be introducing the incoming class on the blog, and already I’ve received a few submissions. To kick if off, meet Sayan Supratim Das. Sayan was a researcher with an NGO and drafted a thesis on water scarcity. After SIPA, he hopes to work for UN Water or UN Women where he can combine his career interests of water access to the intersection of gender and human rights work.
Full Name: Sayan Supratim Das
Degree Program: Master of International Affairs
Concentration: Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy
Anticipated Graduation Year: Spring 2018
Hometown: Chandigarh, Chandigarh, India
Undergraduate University: ILS Law College, University of Pune
Undergraduate Major: Law
Undergraduate Graduation Year: 2011
What’s your professional background?
My professional experiences range as a researcher for a NGO where I designed and drafted a thesis on water scarcity, and an internship under an Indian parliamentarian which gave me a glimpse of the bureaucracy at work, a public policy institution where I researched and drafted a book on a grassroots entrepreneurship giving me a window to create my own career goals in the sphere of water while utilising the many grassroots organisations operating within India and a lawyer which has given me a deeper understanding of the judiciary. All these have been attempts to understand the public policy space from the different aspects of research, administration and execution. I have also worked as a freelance editor for a publishing house and a literary journal and currently am an English tutor with an educational consultancy.
Did you apply to SIPA to change careers or to gain experience in a career path you already have experience in?
I applied to SIPA to learn and to hopefully create opportunities to become an international civil servant and policy maker.
What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted to SIPA?
It was seven in the morning when I received a call from a dear friend who had made it to SIPA as well. Groggy and overjoyed with her success, I opened my mailbox full of trepidation only to find floating balloons in the portal declaring that I had made it as well. I took a deep breath and then brought my best smile with me to wake my parents to such a great news. I can still scarcely believe that I am heading towards an Ivy League education.
What do you most look forward to as a graduate student at SIPA?
The opportunities, both professional and personal. The wide range of classes. Even after shortlisting the classes I want to take at SIPA, I still have a dozen or more classes which fascinates me. I am eager to study, to really delve deep into policy issues of interest, to learn from my peers and professors and gain a sense of empowerment, a voice, because living in a far more democratic world than my parents, I know I can make a difference, a real, tangible difference in the lives of others.
[Photo credit: Sayan Supratim Das | Ma, Baba and Me. #TheThreeMusketeers #AllForOne #OneForAll]
Do you have any apprehensions about starting graduate school?
The finances bother me. It does. I will not lie. New York is not pleasant to our bank accounts. However, I overlooked this bit in favour of an education from a top school at the time of applications, and now that I have made it in, I must look beyond my own fears and celebrate what will be a life altering process.
What are your goals after SIPA? I hope to work with the United Nations. I am focussed on making it to the organisation. I hope to either work with UN Water or UN Women, given that my interest area is the intersection of gender and human rights with access to water.
If you could change one small thing about your community, country or the world, what would it be?
Isn’t this a loaded question? I would inculcate the habit of listening into any community in the world. Listen closely, listen intently, listen with the hope to respond and not react, listen to collate the views of others with your information, listen to not become opinionated but to be informed, and listen to make others feel heard. A lot of today’s global issues began as a cry for help or to be heard which was wilfully ignored in a room of opinionated and ill-informed people who were or perhaps still are in positions of power.
Tell us something interesting about yourself:
I am a talker so this can take a while. I was raised in six cities, attended five different schools and worked and studied in three different parts of India. So I do feel like an immigrant within India given how diverse we are in terms of language, culture, lifestyle and food. I am a writer, or I like to say I am. I had the privilege to study Creative Writing at the University of Oxford (graduated in 2015) which has made me obsessed with someday living and writing in a cottage in the English countryside overlooking a chattering brook. I am in the middle of my novel on displaced Bangladeshis at this point. I am huge Bollywood aficionado, and like our actors in the 90’s I can dance on the streets at the a drop of a hat (provided there is good music). I love to cook, feed people and one day I will become the ‘Brown’ Nigella Lawson of the western world. Finally, chicken tikka masala, films by Mira Nair, Priyanka Chopra (Quantico fame), books by Jhumpa Lahiri and JK Rowling and Roger Federer are my kryptonites.
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