Graduate profile – University of Copenhagen

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Graduate profile

Joanna Woods graduated from the Centre of African Studies in 2014 and has now been offered a job at the University of Malawi.

In 2014 I submitted a Masters thesis on Poetry in Malawi to the Centre of African Studies (CAS), Copenhagen University as part of the fulfilment of my MA in African Studies. It is without a doubt that what has followed in my career since then has very crucial roots in CAS. 

I subsequently extended the thesis I wrote which led to a book publication in 2015 on the matter of Literature in Malawi. It was after I completed writing this book that I moved to Malawi.

I had known before my university studies that I wanted to spend some time living and working in Malawi, so to begin with I pursued a six month voluntary role there as a Research Officer for a Social Enterprise project – gathering and collating qualitative and quantitative data on child health and education in order to gain an understanding of how it is to be a child in a township in Malawi. It so happened that the data set I gathered during that time led to the start of a pre-school feeding programme in the surrounding area, of which I am now Project Coordinator. The skill sets which grew out of CAS have been well utilized in both roles – I was well equipped with an understanding of development in African countries and am versed in methods of data collection. It is now – a year later - that I have bolstered that understanding with an enormous amount of active experience in the field.

Meanwhile, my passion for literary endeavor in Africa remains, and especially in Malawi. So, outside of work hours here I have taken part in literature workshops and festivals, and have been editing short stories for contemporary writers in-country. It is with this avid interest and my academic background that I saw and applied for a job with the University of Malawi some months ago. The result is that I have been offered the position of Lecturer in Literature in the Department of English, starting in March 2017.

The coming chapter promises to utilize and challenge my abilities in academia, but it is beyond a dream to be given the chance to work in this institution in Malawi, and in such a field. I would not have come so far, and would not be going further, without the teaching, contacts and experience gained at the Centre of African Studies. It has been, and remains, a guiding light for me in the world of learning and experiencing Africa. 

See other interviews and film about the MA in African Studies.