Meet students of Global South Studies

Lean more about Global South Studies by reading interviews of present and past students of GSS minor.

Interview of Xinyi Zhang. She completed her Global South Studies in May 2015.

Xinyi IMG_8380

What do you study as your major and minor subjects?

I study economics as my major at the University of Helsinki. My minors are Global South Studies and Finnish educational and pedagogical studies. I believe the key to sustainable development is high-quality and equal education for all.

Why did you choose to study Global South Studies minor?

I chose Global South Studies, because I am interested in development issues. I come from China, which is a developing country, and I have witnessed the fast development of my country, including tremendous economic growth along with various environmental and social challenges. I also wanted to know more about other developing countries from ‘the South’. Besides, I wanted to learn more generally about development, including different perspectives to development, as well as concepts and debates around it.

Given my previous internship experience, I have learned about the great potential of South-South cooperation. I believe experiences of the fast developing countries can be useful for the least developed countries. I would very much like to see more people break out of poverty and reach prosperity.

Which courses did you choose in your GSS minor?

I chose Missiology and intercultural theology, Tourism and Development, Development Economics I & II, and Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development in my GSS minor.

How do you think the GSS minor can benefit you in your future?

Firstly, I have broadened my knowledge. My education was more focused in humanities previously, but now I have gained much knowledge in science. Secondly, it has improved my critical thinking. I also feel that I am more capable to see and think one issue from the perspective of multiple disciplines. Thirdly, I have learned a lot about development through the lectures, discussions, group works, and so on. To me, the most interesting form of learning was a project in which we designed a project to promote sustainable tourism in Bangladesh.

How did you find the Introduction to Global South Studies course?
IGSS allowed me to learn and understand development from a vast range of areas. However, it also felt very extensive, spreading over two periods and two campuses. I suggest that the course will be given in an intensive way with the same content, which will also help the students to choose courses for their GSS minor later.

Interview of Yida Cai. He is conducting Global South Studies minor in 2015-2016.


What is your background and what do you study?

I come from Taizhou, which is located in the eastern part of China, near Shanghai. I have lived in Finland for 2 years now, studying food science at the master’s degree level in the University of Helsinki. I would like to conduct PhD studies in Finland, or elsewhere in Europe, later on.

Why did you choose to study Global South Studies minor?

My home country, China is the fastest developing country, but the development of the country is not balanced regionally. In a lot of other developing countries, especially African countries, the level of development is comparatively lower, in all aspects. As we are living in a peaceful world and an advanced human’s society, cooperation between countries is very important. This is why I am interested in knowing more about the issues that influence development processes and that are important for development. I also want to learn about other countries and their ways of solving development problems. If some countries find good solutions to their problems, others can learn from them.

In low income countries, food security is often a problem, especially in many African countries. As a student of food science, I am interested in knowing how to improve food security in countries of the Global South. For instance in China, a famous food scientist has created hybrid cereal that grows well in various types of environment. This kind of technology may help to solve nutritional problems in other countries, too.
Which courses do you plan to take in your GSS minor?

I plan to study development economics, two courses on agriculture and forestry in developing countries and a course on nutritional problems in low income countries.

How do you think the GSS minor can benefit you in your future?

If I return to my home country, China, I can apply the knowledge that I have gathered to try to solve problems there, for instance problems to do with nutrition. The nutrition status of people is imbalanced, there are big differences between people and areas. The GSS minor may also be useful for my food science studies, since China has a serious food safety problems.

What are your expectations for the Introduction to Global South Studies course?

I would like to get an overview of the key issues in GSS and development, such as gender issues, climate change, and policies. I would also like to know more about the most serious development problems in different parts of the Global South. Then I would like to dig deeper in certain topics, to get a more detailed understanding of some development issues. I also wish to learn from other students, their thoughts on development problems and possible solutions.