I cannot believe I’m already home and my year as a Roger M Jones Fellow has come to a close. This past year has been difficult, but every experience and encounter has altered my perception of the world and the people in it, giving me new motivation and reasons to continue exploring and learning. There is so much of my story that I wasn’t able to share here.
Fortunately, the RMJ story will continue. I’m excited to introduce the 2016-17 Fellow: Ashley Kiemen, who will be traveling to London to study the philosophy of science at the London School of Economics! I wish Ashley all the best as she starts her adventure and I look forward to reading about it!
As for me, I will be returning to the University of Michigan to start a PhD in Computer Science, with the aim of studying censorship, surveillance, data protection, and privacy, among other security topics. Part of what I wanted to gain during my year in Germany was an insight into how people address these themes from different directions and fields of study, because I feel that those who design and build technology can sometimes be quite disconnected from the actual users and their needs. In my classes this year, I saw these problems from an entirely new point of view, but at the same time I slowly learned that human rights law is often just as removed from the people it’s trying to help as technology is.
It was really from my classmates and friends that I learned why this field exists at all, and why it really is moving forward — the ambition and hope of the people who believe in it. The people I met were from all over the world, with so many different experiences and motivations for working in human rights, and these people most of all are a source of inspiration to me as I move forward.
I am so grateful to the Roger M Jones Fellowship for giving me this opportunity. It is playing a major role in who I’m becoming and how I will move forward with my education and my life. Thanks for following me on my journey!