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1 month in: Studying in the UK

There’s a reason I haven’t posted in a while. It’s been a month and a few days since I moved to the United Kingdom to pursue my postgraduate studies. It’s been one of my dreams to get a masters degree in the United Kingdom and my journey began last year when I decided to apply for a Chevening scholarship. I got in, with 26 other Filipinos, in the hopes of learning more and applying it when I get back home.

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In applying for the Chevening scholarship, you have to put 3 choices of courses and universities you want to attend in the UK. Mine were the University of Glasgow, University of Sussex, and the University of East Anglia. I got into all three, but eventually chose UEA. I am now in Norwich studying Media and International Development at the University of East Anglia.

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UEA’s Square, where students hang-out on a sunny day

I first became involved in climate justice in 2009. I was in college then, a member of Dakila, and we began a campaign with Oxfam in time for COP19 in Copenhagen. Everyone was waiting for a big agreement to happen. That failed. After graduating from college, I worked full time with Dakila and my first project was the Climate School. Every weekend that summer, we would go to Malabon to teach young people in the community about climate change through visual arts, music, theatre.

In 2013, typhoon Haiyan happened. They didn’t understand the word storm surge, they said. So they all evacuated their homes into centers by the sea. They would all die. I remember thinking how so many people could have been saved if only there was better communication, if only those scientific terms were explained in the way people would understand them.

In 2014, I joined the Climate Walk from Manila to Tacloban (I joined halfway through) where I documented stories of people in climate vulnerable areas. I still couldn’t forget Ate Vicky, whose pigs went swimming down the road after a typhoon hit them in Samar and caused the river to overflow and flood their town. She got some of her pigs back, but her house was still devastated and her pig pen still in ruins. I wonder how she’s doing now. I remember all their stories, written in my small blue notebook, now kept inside a box with other important things I never want to throw away.

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Ate Vicky and her piggery

In 2015, I became a Climate Tracker fellow and joined the team in Paris in my first ever COP. I wrote articles one after the other, covering for local media like ABSCBN, Rappler, GMA News, Interaksyon; and international media like Fair Observer, Eco Business Singapore, Asian Sentinel, Asian Correspondent. It was this time when I felt like I could help shape policy through writing, and let the public know about what was going on in high level international negotiations. After all, what they talk about in these negotiations are about lives of people in the frontlines of climate change. I was there when the Paris Agreement was signed, along with many others who were crying like we saved the world. And in fact it felt like we did, in that little room in Le Bourget. But we all knew it was only the beginning and the road ahead is more difficult. And now we have Trump who believes climate change was made by China.

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Attending the UNFCCC in 2015 in Bonn, Germany

I’ve continued my work in climate justice since then. When I decided I’ll be taking my masters, I knew I wanted to do something on communication and development, and I wanted to focus on climate change and environmental communication. People need to understand what is happening around them and what they can do about it. There has to be a bridge between scientists and the public, especially when it is the survival of humanity at stake.

The University of East Anglia is a recognized leading institution in the study of climate change, as well as development studies. Last year, I took a short course on climate change and development in UEA, and I just loved their method of teaching, as well as the lecturers who taught us. I knew then that UEA would be a good university to study in and I wasn’t wrong.

I am taking up Media and International Development, and my course allows me to customize my modules such that I can focus on a development issue. So for one year, aside from my core courses on media, I’ll be taking up climate change and environmental courses and one gender course. And I hope by the end of it, I’ll learn how to use media to tackle an important development issue as climate change.

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UEA’s Climatic Research Unit

I still want to publish stories on climate change but I am on the other end now: I analyse and criticise how NGO’s and the media communicate. I understand better the power of media, what it can and can’t do, how it impacts society, and how it contributes to development. I’ve been doing a lot of academic writing, which I hope to share more of in this website. So in the next few months, I will be sharing more of my academic essays and I hope to share my insights on media and development.

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Me and my classmates celebrating our first essay for Media and International Development

That said, I hope to still see everyone here, albeit a slight transition from being a news site on climate change to a more academic one.

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