Doug Olthof: ‘My experience as an MA student at SFU’s School for International Studies began in 2008, after what I imagine to be a common international experience: going out into the world as an intrepid young backpacker and returning home years later a committed, if often frustrated, development worker. I came to the School to learn how be more effective in that role and, thereby, to ‘make the world a better place.’ I left with a radically new conception of that world and my place in it.
The year-long MA program was intense, challenging and, by and large, a lot of fun. I formed bonds of friendship with a cohort of inspiring people who shared common humanitarian commitments born of strikingly diverse experiences. The faculty at the School demanded much of us, but rewarded us with carefully considered assessments of our work and guidance toward our academic and professional objectives.
It was during my experiences as a MAIS student that I found my feet as a scholar. After graduating, I set out into the world once again, but soon found myself back at the School for International Studies, this time as a Ph.D. student under Professor John Harriss. If the intensity of the MAIS had been akin to a 10,000m race, it had prepared me well for the marathon that is a Ph.D. Shortly after completing my Ph.D. in 2016, I accepted a position in Jasper, Alberta where I am working to establish a strategy for successful immigrant and refugee settlement.'