October 18, 2019
Beyond the classroom
Indra Sarju (BES ’19) chose the International Development program at Waterloo because she wanted to work abroad.
Indra Sarju (BES ’19) chose the International Development program at Waterloo because she wanted to work abroad.By Carrie Gabla Office of Advancement
“I was born in the Caribbean and come from a very diverse ethnic background,” says Indra. “As a child I was fortunate to travel quite a bit, so I have always enjoyed learning about other cultures. The International Development program allowed me to take what I’m passionate about and apply it to create positive change in places where social, economic and environmental challenges threaten the very existence of the people who live there.”
In her final year, Indra went to Africa to work with young people in Malawi, who represent the largest proportion of its population and have the highest rate of unemployment.
“I volunteered with the Associated Centre for Agro-Based Development and Entrepreneurial Support (ACADES),” she explains. “My job was to identify the gaps between what food farmers were producing and what their customers (local schools, grocery stores, hotels and conference centres, etc.) were asking for. Drawing from what I’d learned in the classroom, I made recommendations that would encourage investment in more sustainable employment opportunities for young Malawians.”
It wasn’t all work though. Thanks to a scholarship, Indra was able to take advantage of her time in Africa, make new friends, and experience the local culture. “Receiving the Winifred Hewetson Award in Community and World Service really propelled me to invest in my time overseas,” she says “I built friendships with my co-workers and with some of the locals. The best part of my time in Africa was immersing myself in the culture to be able to see the country and the world through their eyes. The memories of my time there will be with me forever.”
Indra Sarju (BES ’19)
The International Development program allowed me to take what I’m passionate about and apply it to create positive change in places where social, economic and environmental challenges threaten the very existence of the people who live there.
Indra graduated this past June at the top of her class, an honour for which she received the 2019 Distinguished Academic Achievement Award. Now, she’s taking some well-deserved time off before deciding what’s next.
“I am passionate about holistic development that tackles a variety of factors impacting people,” she says “I’d eventually like to do a Masters and a PhD.”
Winifred Hewetson was dedicated to lifelong education, earning two university degrees and a college diploma. She was also passionate about community service. Among her many volunteer roles, she was a founding member and a director of the Carold Institute for the Study of Citizenship in Social Change. Upon her retirement from the board in 1999, the Institute honoured her service by creating the Winifred Hewetson Awards in Community and World Service at the University of Waterloo. Over the years, Winifred gave generously to the award, including through a bequest made in her will. She passed away in 2015.