Manchester Calling

The Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute

Sidi Ye is an international student from China who started studying for her MA in Humanitarianism and Conflict Response at the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI) in 2019. Below she talks about her background and why she came to study at Manchester.

I was born in a small rural town close to Hangzhou, going to school whilst my parents both ran their own individual businesses. Chinese culture is very much focussed on education and encourages most people to go and get their master’s degree before focussing on other areas. I decided to do my undergraduate degree in teaching Chinese as a second language. Whilst pursuing this course, I realised I did not want to teach languages as my future career, but that it was actually the cultural side of meeting new people and seeing new places  the that really excited me.

Sidi Ye

During my degree in China, I went to Egypt for a month and volunteered with refugees in the country. I was curious about populations and the effect religion can have on shaping people’s lives. The experience of volunteering truly broadened my mind, but unexpectedly brought up some points that I had never previously engaged with. For example, the refugees that I was dealing with, actually had what seemed to be a good quality of life. It seemed their life was in fact quite a lot better than that of their local counterparts. I had never experienced this before or previously contemplated that before. However, I absolutely loved being out of my comfort zone and learning about this whole new world I had been exposed to.

It was during this period that I decided I wanted to study refugees and continue to complete a masters program. I had originally thought about studying in Russia however I then applied and was successful in receiving a scholarship from Chinese Scholarship Council, which meant I was eligible to complete a degree at a select number of universities. With this in mind, I began to research the given universities that offered courses on humanitarianism and through my research I came across HCRI.  The website caught my eye at first, the simplicity of it really helped me navigate to the degree I wanted to do and the opportunity to undertake a field trip in Uganda was when I realised I had to study in Manchester. Of course, I know we have to learn the theory, but to actually learn in the field is where my true passion lies.

I did not really have any expectations upon arriving to Manchester. The weather was much cooler than back in China, which I absolutely love and in fact have really enjoyed the cold weather that autumn has also brought. The University has so many extracurricular activities available, I have taken up dance classes and when possible have volunteered with local organisations. Manchester is situated close to the Peak District national park and not too far away from the Lake District national park and I found myself truly enjoying what they had to offer, getting outside and one with nature.

So far my favourite module has been Humanitarianism and Displacement: Researching the Legacies of War. In this module you get a theoretical understanding and appreciation of humanitarian issues in a Less Developed Country. It has really broadened my mind and helped me think critically about the realities of the world we live in today.

Once I graduate, I intend to move to South America and learn Spanish, prior to looking for work within the humanitarian industry. My main aim is to work with refugees and make a difference.