I’m in my final year of business school at the Institut des Relations Internationales et Stratégique (IRIS Sup’), where I’m doing a degree in International Programme Management: Humanitarian Aid and Development. I’ve just finished a two-month voluntary placement with ULB-Coopération, which I did voluntarily, with the aim of discovering impactful projects and, as a French person, getting to know the Belgian solidarity ecosystem.

I wanted to understand how a Belgian NGO – and a university NGO at that – works, find out about North-South projects, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo on health-related issues, and understand the relationships between the various Belgian donors and a Belgian NGO.

During these 2 months, I had the opportunity to work on the development of an advocacy strategy, defining its key stages and putting them into practice as part of a health project in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I was also able to experience academic cooperation by helping to organise an event with ARES (Académie de Recherche et d’Enseignement Supérieur) highlighting the societal impact of academic projects.

I really enjoyed working on the creation of an advocacy strategy for ULB-Coopération. I was able to understand the key stages in developing a good advocacy strategy. More specifically, I helped to draw up a summary sheet for the teams, which could be used in the future to set up advocacy actions and, for example, the importance of supporting the strengthening of the Congolese health system.

My experience with ULB-Coopération has been very formative. I’ve been lucky enough to join a team that is passionate and motivated to promote international solidarity throughout the world. A team that listens, that takes the time to answer all the questions a student might have about the sector. I felt that they trusted me, which also motivated me to give my best to each of my tasks!

My expectations were fulfilled, and I was able to really understand the workings and challenges of an NGO focused on international and multi-sector cooperation. This experience encourages me to continue in the international solidarity sector. In a few months’ time, I’m starting an internship with an NGO to develop humanitarian programmes in the Sahel. Thanks to ULB-Coopération, I feel equipped to start this new adventure.

As well as working in a friendly team, my managers treated me as a full member of the team, even though I was only there part-time for 2 months. So I was able to take part in all the meetings that interested me and my contribution was always welcome. As I live in Paris, the ULB-Coopération teams were very flexible and allowed me to adapt my timetable to make it easier for me to travel. I would sincerely like to thank all the teams for their welcome and their kindness. I’ve certainly learnt a lot, but above all I’ve met some inspiring people. Talking to all of you was so enriching. Thank you for your trust, your time, your sharing of experiences… I felt at ease from the very first day and I realise just how valuable this working environment is. I’ll be following your example in the future.☺