IJRA Concludes Summer 2022 With New Research Skills, Memories and Gratitude
Posted on behalf of: Anna Loewy
Last updated: Wednesday, 24 August 2022
“It’s been a memorable summer,” said Diep An Ho, wrapping up her talk that marked the end of the International Junior Research Associates’ summer at Sussex.
Concluding their eight - weeks of British summertime and undertaking research into their chosen fields of study, the IJRA students’ journey culminated in an afternoon of reflecting upon what they have discovered through the course of their research.
It was an occasion to thank their mentors, to teach their fellow International Junior Research Associates about their field of expertise, and a time for the Global Engagement team to reflect upon the human value of transnational education and partnerships.
Convening in Sussex’s Jubilee building, students delivered five-to-ten-minute talks that covered the range of their research findings, including the methodologies they applied, their struggles, surprises, and discoveries. Frequently, Sussex mentors were spoken of in glowing terms, as were their fellow IJRA students.
“It’s like you guys love your jobs,” observed Excellent Osunkoya, University of Lagos, as he finished talking about his research project into viable alternatives to solar power in his home state of Nigeria. “I’ve made friends with inspiring people, and I’ve met a lot of the kindest, too,” said Jeffrey Sun, University of Chicago. “It’s been a truly memorable experience, and Dr. Pawlik’s words are gold.”
Kindness was another quality frequently mentioned by the IJRA’s when they spoke of the Sussex staff.
Scott Angelo Castillo’s research contributed to a qualitative exploration of social interactions that promote healthy functioning. He came across some unexpected outcomes. One of his research subjects reported it was small, daily interactions that felt meaningful. Other discoveries reinforced established ideas like people finding value in small groups of trusted individuals with whom they can be vulnerable.
Looking at the group of ten IJRA students who had flown in from America, India, Vietnam, Thailand, and Mexico to participate in the scheme, the sense was that Castillo’s findings were being enacted. Here was a group of students who until 8-weeks ago had been strangers; now, they were leaving with new research methodologies, avenues in higher education broadening as they have papers published, and friendships without borders.
“I was sitting there watching how confident all the students are and hearing about how this experience made a positive impact on their future. I was truly inspired and proud of working in HE industry,” Li Camm, Head of Global Partnerships, reflected.
The IJRA event reminded us that there is profound human value to be derived when higher education institutions create spaces and opportunities where students and lecturers can convene, build trust, share knowledge, and gain connections that span the globe.
The afternoon was completed by the giving of certificates and the ubiquitous group photograph. We thank all the mentors and partner universities for supporting the IJRA scheme and look forward to IJRA 2023.