New FIN Intern Alert! Meet Rita!

I am Rita, a 20-year-old undergraduate student in Economics and Business Economics at Maastricht University. Besides studying, I am a talkative human traveler who enjoys interacting and helping others. And, I am also passionate about youth empowerment through social entrepreneurship!

I like talking to people because I think every person is unique and has much to teach every one of us – if we just take the time to listen. What I love most about people is the uniqueness that each human being holds, their own creativity and imprint that they paint as they walk through their different life experiences. Thinking about it, growing up in Rwanda in a neighborhood that was engaged in several community activities and encouraged conversation with different people, built-in me the love for conversation. In addition, attending international school both in Rwanda and in Nairobi, exposed me to meeting several international students from different parts of the world. Sharing stories with them took me halfway across the world and back in just a few hours. My passion to hear, learn and share these adventures exposed me to different cultural and societal viewpoints.

Then from Rwanda, I came to Maastricht to do a Bachelor’s in the Economics of Emerging Markets at Maastricht University. Maybe, it is because of the thrill and fulfillment of this journey with people in Maastricht university, I started to volunteer to community service dinners. These are get-togethers that involve meals and story-telling, which exposed me to more of the adventures and nationalities journeying to new destinations. From these experiences, I improved my communication skills and developed an even more of an open-mind to diversity – i.e. people of all different ages and nationalities.

Despite my prior life adventures, moving to a whole different country, the Netherlands, with a different culture study system and language and all these new experiences- just hit me like a new wave. School was hard – life was hard. All of a sudden, the familiar came with an unexpected breeze of newness. Things, like making new friends and engaging in a community, was difficult. However, as I immersed myself in the culture over time, what was novel became more rewarding than unfamiliar. Indisputably, living through that experience created in me compassion and empathy towards other international students going through the same struggle. To help them, I joined several international student organizations that engaged incoming students as a mentor. Through this journey, I could share stories and lessons from my experiences as an encouragement.

Being surrounded by several young people like me, and realizing the part that we play in society, the popular statement “The youth are the force of change for tomorrow” has become a reality for me. This instilled the fire, passion and hope to strive for a career to empower the youth.

Now, one of the ways I dream to achieve this is through social entrepreneurship. Coming from a developing country, it is common that several infrastructural gaps hinder both economic and human development such as lack of access to clean water, adequate sanitation, health, and many others. Realizing these and asking the question “how can these be solved?”, social entrepreneurship sealed the deal. As the youth work together to generate solutions to these gaps in society through entrepreneurship, the impact and spillovers of this empower the youth and cultivate sustainable communities.

Furthermore, as a part of my Bachelor’s specialization in emerging markets, doing an internship was one of the requirements. Hence, the search for the internship began. As I attended the World Toilet Day organized by SITE4Society and FIN trust during this search, the alignment of their work to my passion was incredible. I loved it all, their mission and practicality. They were creating impact through social entrepreneurship! Together with their action-based research and implementation of it, their core mission centered around creating transformative sustainable societal change. This includes community waste management systems. This is done through academic research and analysis involving science, innovation, technology, and engagement, along with recommendations for policy change and entrepreneurship. With the hope to impact all levels of society starting from a local level to develop sustainable systems and efficient communities – I had found my niche! This internship fits very well with my passion and career dreams giving me solid training to learn, develop and build skills for my passion.

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