Many of the students who attended the Development and Conflict Summer School were professionals or UG/Post-graduates working in or studying areas of conflict. We had a fantastic three weeks together bringing different perspectives to theoretical debates. Our discussions were greatly enriched by Rashid Yaqoob who came from a different background to the majority of the other students. I found his involvement with the course and the topic inspiring as he brought a wealth of experience and came to SOAS to re-engage with education and get to grips with discussions that are central to so many parts of life. Here is his testimonial:
I participated in the SOAS summer school programme titled ‘Development and Conflict’ in which was a privilege for me to benefit from the teaching expertise of Dr Zoe Marriage. This programme helped me to understand various topics in the field of development studies. This programme allowed me to study and collaborate with many hardworking, beautiful and intelligent individuals from around the world. The Summer School programme was so beautifully designed that vast area of knowledge was covered within very short period of time. The Summer School learning experience under the supervision of highly competent teaching staff gave me the sufficient introductory knowledge to start again and continue my journey. The SOAS Summer School program far exceeded my expectations in every aspect. It was genuinely an inspirational and life changing experience that no one should miss.
I am 52 years old, and obtained my BA in the year 1988 from the Pakistani governance administered area of Kashmir (Present days called Azad Kashmir). I was then admitted into the Pakistani higher education institution for the course in law (LLB) but I had to interrupt my study half way through because of force of circumstances. Please note I was never an excellent or bright learner in the past. In the year of 1998, I settled in United Kingdom on a permanent basis. As an immigrant, life in United Kingdom was not so easy but I was able to manage anyway. During the transitional phase I have learned many new skills including training to be an Accounting Technician, Diploma in Herbalism (Apothecary), Diploma in Natural Health Practice Management, Electrical Installation and many more but still exploring for survival.
When I was born, the 1965 Pakistan and India conflict over Kashmir had just ended. I do not have any conscious memory of that time, but as a five year old child I do have some memories of the fall of Dhaka conflict in December 1971. From time to time Pakistani and Indian war planes flew over sky. We were instructed by the new city administration not to turn on lights durng the night; they also alerted us via war time siren. My parents painted black on the windows so that even the very dim lights we used would not be able to escape in the night time. They also dug ordinary underground trenches where my family hid during the day. When I grew up, my parents told me that they were forced to migrate as environmental refugees from their home city to new place because the government wanted to build a dam (water reservoir). These memories always have stayed with me and left many questions on my mind about peoples’ displacement form their homes, why were they fighting, who gave them funding to kill and bomb each other, what was the motivation behind these conflicts, and who were the beneficiaries? I am getting old but the conflicts have not been resolved since the creation of the two separate entities of Pakistan and Bharat (India) in 1947. The Soviet–Afghan War brought more chaos and uncertainty to the region from 1979 to 1989. Now we are living in 21st century, and there are new challenges such as depleted resources, deforestation, water scarcity, climate change, land grabbing and nuclear waste.
Thus, to fulfil my learning ambition, I decideded to embark on further seeking the knowledge in the field of development studies to enhance my understanding about state-to-state relationships, treaties among sovereign states, business, economic, judicial, political systems and trade deals between international communities. I also would like to learn how non-state actors influence state policies and international conflict resolutions and how sovereign state operates within territory and as well outside.