News from the SECO / WTI Academic Cooperation Project
South African lawyer Kekeletso Mashigo has just completed the Master of International Law and Economics (MILE) programme at the WTI and returned home. The former SECO scholar agreed to answer a few questions about her MILE experience.
You have returned to South Africa and the Department of Trade and Industry. What job are you doing there?
Yes, now I am back at work and doing what I was doing prior to the sabbatical leave – managing South Africa’s multilateral engagements at various international organisations, like the WTO, OECD and UNCTAD. This entails analysing and preparing policy and legal briefs on international trade and investment issues and participating in trade and investment negotiations aimed at facilitating South Africa’s trade and investment.
What was your experience of the MILE programme? Was it hard returning to studying from working life?
The experience was informative and intense, leaving one with very little ”me” or ”leisure time”. However, it was also refreshing – being in a foreign country and meeting new people. The MILE programme enabled me to bring my work experience to the classroom and share experiences with other like-minded individuals; I learned a lot from different experiences and points of view. The interdisciplinary nature of the MILE brings together all the trade puzzle pieces – you end up with a clear understanding of the issues and how they interlink. Going back to full time studying from full time working life proved to be quite a challenge. Sitting throughout the entire day and trying to be attentive is quite different from being at work for 8-10 hours.
Was it worth it?
Yes, it was worth it. The Department granted me sabbatical leave for the time that I was attending the MILE programme. The opportunity provided me with time to reflect on my career and to further refine my skills, which would not have been possible amid the hustle and bustle of normal working life. It enabled me to explore professional realms even though I was not officially “at work”. Being able to remove myself from my daily demands and responsibilities, I was able to gain new insights, ideas and perspectives. The new ideas and perspectives will be of value to and benefit the Department. The MILE programme has given me the opportunity to consolidate and expand my knowledge. It will enable me to work on a wider range of issues.
You came to the WTI as a SECO-sponsored student. How important was it for you to receive that scholarship?
I am indebted to SECO for recognising my potential and providing me with the scholarship that enabled me to undertake the Master’s programme. Without the funding, I would not have been able to attend the programme. I am also equally indebted to the Department of Trade and Industry for granting me sabbatical leave that enabled me to attend the programme
Is there anything you would like to add?
It was a very intense programme – an experience next to none, but well worth it, especially if one is already working in the area.