Heidi Braun

Heidi Braun (photo)
Degree Title: 
BA Honours, Major in ID with Area of Emphasis in Biophysical Environment and Development
Graduation Date: 
2011

My final semester of my undergraduate degree was spent on exchange at the University of Ghana. Returning to West Africa was, in retrospect, the perfect way to complete my BA, since it was an eye-opening experience in the region as a participant in a Canada World Youth exchange to Quebec and Burkina Faso in 1997-98 that had initially motivated me to transfer into the ID program at Guelph.

Upon returning from my studies and adventures in Ghana, I pursued work experiences closer to home. I took a job leading education programming for school groups at a heritage farm in my hometown of Kitchener, Ontario. I enjoyed teaching children and families about how food is grown and drew on my experiences abroad to discuss the changing role of agriculture. I also worked for a year as a Project Leader for Katimavik, based in Mattawa, Ontario. I appreciated these opportunities to engage in community development in a Canadian context.

I have since returned to various corners of the African continent, working with a community-based resource centre in Western Kenya on a volunteer placement with Canadian Crossroads International and pursuing field work in Kenya towards my MSc in Capacity Development and Extension from the University of Guelph.

While working on my master’s thesis, I secured a summer placement at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Ottawa, where I returned as an intern after defending my thesis. Five years later, I am still working at IDRC, now as a Program Management Officer with the Climate Change and Water program. I appreciate IDRC’s mission of supporting research and nurturing research capacity in the South and enjoy the opportunity to work with a group of motivated and intelligent colleagues from around the world.

Living and working in Ottawa, I have developed close connections with a number of Guelph graduates, many of whom are also working in the fields of environment and international development. We bump into each other at music festivals, in the hills of Gatineau park, and find each other participating in the same meetings and workshops. While on travel for work, I’ve also enjoyed unexpected reunions with Guelph ID alumni in airports, at conferences and even in taxi cabs! We usually share a common passion and healthy dose of criticism about the work we’re engaged in. Invited by a friend to record my reflections on the rewards and struggles associated with international development work, I recently contributed a chapter to the book, Generation NGO