Learning and Practicing Development: An Interview with Mariam Adil

Mariam Adil

Mariam Adil

OID: Thanks for talking to OID today! Tell us a little bit about yourself: where are you from, what makes you passionate about development, and why did you choose GWU for your Master’s?

Mariam Adil: Hi Rachel. Well let’s see, I am a first year IDS student at the Elliott School and am super excited about talking to you today. I come from Pakistan and have spent the past four months trying to make DC home.

GWU was a natural choice when I made the decision to pursue a second master’s degree. Having experienced the depth of issues in international development in my three years of employment at the World Bank (WB) Country office in Pakistan, I was determined to pursue an enhanced mix of technical skills to be able to tackle the complexities of evidence-based policy making.  I feel the field of development is fairly complex and therefore I joined the Elliott School in an attempt to understand the horizon of global practices that populate the development canvas.

The opportunity of pursuing graduate studies at ESIA allows me to learn from distinguished faculty, interact with a truly global student body and live in a city brimming with career opportunities in international development.

Mariam Adil and the globe at WB HQ

Mariam Adil at the World Bank HQ

OID: Where do you work right now and what kind of work do you do there?

Mariam Adil: I am currently working as an Economist for the World Bank Africa Education Unit. Having previously worked on primary education in Pakistan, I am extremely excited about the opportunity to not only work in a new region but also focus on a different dimension of the educational pipeline, tertiary education. I am a member of the higher education team that assists the region’s governments with policy advice, financing and technical assistance to improve education outcomes.

OID: What made you decide to work and go to school simultaneously?

Mariam Adil: In my mind, there was no other way to do it. I feel the benefits of being able to create linkages across my work and study far outweigh the pressures of multi-tasking. Development is about unveiling channels through which lessons are learnt across regions, knowledge is shared across borders and experiences inspire across time zones. The WB-GW mix is ideal for celebrating the spirit of development.

OID: Do you feel your experience as a practitioner has aided in your classroom experiences thus far? If so, in what ways?

Mariam Adil: I used to think, I would have to zone in and out of the student mode if I am working and studying at the same time, but it turns out that everything I do feels like an excellent learning opportunity with my student hat on. Given my experience in the World Bank, I am better able to contextualize the concepts that are discussed in class and relate them directly to my professional experiences. In the past few weeks, I have come across several development perspectives that are critical of the way that the IFIs function. Being part of an IFI, I am not only able to understand these criticisms in a meaningful manner but also appreciate the progress that has been made in the past decade in addressing some of the longstanding concerns. Lastly, examples from work help in taking a shot at those class participation marks.

Mariam shared this picture from the field-the boy is standing in a gaping hole in his school's wall, he found the entire thing very funny. Mariam said, "every time i look at the picture, I wonder if we could give him a different reason to smile."

Mariam shared this picture from the field-the boy was playing between a gaping hole in his school’s wall. Mariam said, “every time i look at the picture, I wonder if we could give him a different reason to smile.”

OID: The semester is still just getting into gear, but do you feel like what you’re learning in class helps you professionally? If so, how so?

Mariam Adil: I am truly enjoying the mix of faculty at the Elliott School. We have a great line-up of anthropologists, with the likes of Professor Roberts, Professor Fink and Professor Gow, giving me an opportunity to view development with a different lens, one that is shared by the World Bank president who is also an Anthropologist. And then there are the inspirational economists that that have strong linkages with the Bank. Professor Foster is buddies with the WB Chief Economist, Kaushik Basu, and Professor Fox, having worked at the WB for several years, is super popular amongst my class-fellows and colleagues J.

Also, the biggest advantage of being in class is the fact that there is no such thing as a stupid question. In development, there are many things that can boggle one’s mind and I am glad I have a second shot at learning more about the work that I so passionately enjoy.

OID: How is your cohort so far?

Mariam Adil: While I do not get much time to enjoy the student life, I can easily say my class fellows have made the entire experience an absolute treat. I am super excited about the cornerstone project and can’t wait to group up and dive into development challenges. Some last words: I think OID rocks. It’s inspiring the work the second years have done, especially on the blog, and I hope we can keep the legacy going. (Editor’s notes: elections are coming up in November!! If you, or someone who inspires or challenges you seems like they would be a good fit to be on the OID board, encourage them to run!