Mud, sweat & sweet potatoes

If you are curious about the world, love to travel and enjoy the company of strangers, the Honours Programme will blow you away. There is a lot of work involved but if you choose the right topic, it is more of a fun activity.

You have to be motivated, flexible, hardworking and open-minded. You’ll be thrown together with other like-minded students and in couples, groups or alone you decide on a project. We had the following topics for example: obesity in schools in Indonesia, sustainable fashion and isolated societies (which was mine).

Together with two other students I went to the island Papua in Indonesia to visit traditional tribes and study their society and way of living as a community. On the spot we decided to change our project around a little and are now looking into how the developing tourism will affect these communities and how we can preserve their lifestyle.

So, together you come up with ideas and then research them and write a proposal about your plans, the trip itself and what you actually hope to achieve. The proposal was the most challenging part in my opinion as it was a lot of work and everyone has different timetables, projects and commitments. Once our plan had been approved, the action phase began, which is usually sometime in June-August. We went three weeks to Indonesia and it was definitely the most exhilarating, memorable, infuriating and unusual trip I’ve ever been on. We hiked and stayed with the local villagers for one week. It can be described as followed: mud, sweat & sweet potatoes. It is literally what we lived on. Wait for the stories on our website! Will be up soon.

We tried to find out as much as possible about these rather isolated societies and we noticed that the way tourism was approached could pose a major threat and challenge to the society. Tourism is still at its beginning stage but growing rapidly and thereby changing the way these communities live. Therefore, we decided to focus more on how to make it more sustainable and beneficial for the locals. That is why we stayed longer in the main city, Wamena, to research our topic. 

After we returned, we worked separately on our outcomes, on how to share our knowledge and create something worthwhile from this amazing opportunity.

So, to anyone interested: you need to know that the Honours Programme will be a lot of work, writing, researching and planning! You will spend your summer somewhere and nothing ever goes as planned. You will get desperate for sure at some point. For me, it was on a day where a 2-hour hike turned into 8 hours… and when I had diarrhoea in church.

But it was all worth it. If you love a challenge, you’ll fit right in. You can choose whatever you desire, so it is really YOUR project.

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