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Chrishane Williams – Communications Consultant, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

I graduated from the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development (SAPD) in September 2016. Currently, I support the positioning of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) as a lead agency in the fight against hunger and malnutrition, using communications.

FAO is an international organisation that carries out work aimed at eliminating hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; promoting more productive and sustainable agriculture, forestry and fisheries; rural poverty reduction, and increasing livelihoods resilience to shocks, threats and crises.

My role as a Communications Consultant involves raising the visibility of the organisation's work in agriculture and rural development in Jamaica, the Bahamas and Belize. We provide technical assistance to the countries in various areas, and are keen on encouraging dialogue with stakeholders, sharing information and success stories and fostering knowledge exchanges and partnerships with civil society, NGOs, development partners and key stakeholders.

The work that I carry out is heavily dependent on high quality content, and requires extensive research, interaction with local and regional stakeholders at various levels, and most importantly engagement with project participants.

I really enjoy interacting with farmers, fishers and community members as they share their experience of development aid and views on development issues. It is always fascinating to learn how various initiatives have an impact on their lives or equipped them to continue their advancement. This interaction allows me to gain a better understanding of the challenges and successes of development efforts, as well as it reminds me that we still have a lot of work if we are to achieve sustainable, positive outcomes.

The Graduate Institute of International Development, Agriculture and Economics (GIIDAE) provided me with a wealth of knowledge within the classroom, which I still refer to in my work today. Lecturers such as Dr Cardey and Dr Ainslie also sought and encouraged opportunities for our growth and engagement with the subject matter that made the experience more fulfilling.

Additionally, the diverse experiences of fellow international students offered a wide scope of views and insight into their country-specific development realities that further enriched my learning.

Whilst studying, I had the opportunity to undertake a six-month internship at the FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy, and in doing so became a recipient of the Stanley Howard Hodgkin Scholarship and an Erasmus+ Traineeship. FAO offered eye-opening exposure on how the organization engages in development programmes and projects.

The internship also aligned well with much of the knowledge that I had gained in the classroom and left me feeling better prepared to engage with the development world as a communication for development practitioner.

I was driven to enroll in the University of Reading based on alumni reviews, available information on the study programme, and the responsiveness of the staff to my queries- areas which are very important for international students, especially when coming from another continent.

Upon starting university, I quickly realised that the reviews were indeed true and that Reading was the ideal choice on my path as a development practitioner. The exposure at Reading and through the internship proved to be simply irreplaceable and the beautiful green campus was a definite bonus, so in the end I am very happy to be an alumna of the University of Reading!