Student club spotlight: Hertie School International Development Club (HIDC)

(From left to right) Photos and names of HIDC steering committee members: Antonia März (MIA 2022), Andrew Wells (MPP 2022), Shira Putrinda (MIA 2021), Sofia Fabiancic (MIA 2022), Svenja Wanner (MPP 2022).

Get to know the student club discussing and organising events on the Global South.

Wondering how you can explore topics in international development alongside your studies? Join the Hertie School International Development Club (HIDC), which creates a space to discuss these issues particularly from a Global South perspective. Read excerpts from our talk with HIDC steering committee member Shira Damia Putrinda (MIA 2021).

Please tell us about yourself and how you got involved with the Hertie School International Development club.

My name is Shira Damia Putrinda. I’m originally from Indonesia. Before I came to Hertie, I was living in Japan for 10 years, so I speak Indonesian, Japanese and English. I was in the private sector for six years before coming here, and now I’m enrolled in the Master of International Affairs, focusing on International Security. I’m writing my thesis on women’s meaningful participation in the peace process.

I joined HIDC because when I started at Hertie, I found that while I appreciated this perspective of European policy in the courses, I felt like the Global South exposure was lacking. So HIDC was the perfect club because not only could we initiate discussions on this topic, we could also organise events that focus on the Global South and help strengthen this area at Hertie.

What events and activities have you organised this past year?

This year, given the switch to online platforms, we initiated more virtual events. First, I invited the ambassador of Indonesia to discuss Indonesia’s development journey and what policies are being focused on. We also had an event on development in Mexico. We hosted a panel discussion about the democratic and humanitarian crisis in Myanmar and how the topic is being handled in Europe, being so far from Southeast Asia. We also organised events collaborating with the Hertie Pride Network and with Cinema Politica – for the last event this semester we screened a movie called Congo Calling, a very interesting critique of development corporations, and discussed it afterwards. With our events, we promote critical thinking and discussion with the Hertie community on diverse topics from different continents: from Asia, Latin America, Africa.

How has HIDC stayed active during the pandemic?

When I first joined HIDC, we used to have in-person events at Hertie, like panels. At the time, I helped organise an Afghan peace process event. We invited four speakers, including one from the embassy of Pakistan and another from the foreign ministry of Germany. There were 40 of us in the Forum. But with Covid-19, everything went online. A positive aspect of online events was that speakers from different time zones could attend – whether they were based in Myanmar, for example, or outside of Berlin. So logistically it was more flexible for us as well.

What will you take with you from your experience in the club after you graduate?

I definitely think the reason why I came to Hertie was to have opportunities to pursue my future career in international development. From my experience with HIDC, I’d like to apply our critical thinking to hands-on experience. I would love to bring the Global South perspective to the normalised thinking of a development corporation. And I want to show that, yes, development corporations are important, but to make them more legitimate, you need the involvement of the people who are from the region being developed. Why don't we see a more bottom-up approach? Why don't we first ask the people what they need?

What are your hopes for the club in the future, and how can new students get involved?

We are a team of very passionate people interested in international development. I hope that future HIDC members will have the same passion to make that vision happen. The structural organisation of our team is not hierarchical. We are very proactive and professional, so if you have the same values, or are interested in international development, or want to bring Global South issues to our events, then you are very much welcome to join the steering committee!

We as a Hertie community, as students of public policy and international affairs, we can try to change what’s happening in today’s world. Even though international development is just a small part of international affairs, you can explore this with HIDC, and you can even have engaging discussions on how we can work on it.