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KDIS Student begins appointment as a District Administrative Secretary (DAS) in Tanzania

  • Date 2023-08-29 00:00
  • CategoryStory
  • Hit955

Meet Olivanus Paul Thomas from Tanzania, a dedicated student who recently received a political appointment while in the final semester of pursuing his Master’s in Public Policy (MPP) at KDI School. Before his studies at KDI School, he had over 10 years of experience working with the public sector in Tanzania. In this interview article, this reporter delves into Olivanus's experience, exploring the event that led to his new role, the subsequent changes he anticipates, and mitigating challenges.

Congratulations on your recent appointment as a District Administrative Secretary! How did you feel when you received the news and what was your reaction?

It was the evening of June 7, 2023 (KST) after returning from my classes. I received several congratulatory messages from friends and colleagues at work. It was unexpected; 108 others and I were selected as DASs by the Office of the President and charged with the responsibility of the affairs of  the Tanzanian citizens living in the Mafia District. The feeling of excitement slowly began to fade, and I became overwhelmed with how best to combine both my current studies in Korea (final semester) and resuming this new role. I quickly communicated my news and concerns with the program chair, scholarship coordinator, and the school’s academic and student affairs divisions to find a way forward. Within a few days, my request to continue my final studies remotely was approved. I began preparations to travel back to my home country and resume my new duties. So far, it has been an interesting learning journey.

With the remote option, how do you plan to balance your duties as the DAS while completing your final semester?

In this new role, there are a lot of expectations and responsibilities, from the citizens, the Office of the President, my superiors and subordinates at the workplace, and my outstanding academic requirement for completing my program at KDI School. It has always been my goal to improve the welfare of my constituency, improve administrative processes, and contribute significantly to the development of my country. This has also been a motivation for considering higher education at prestigious institutions of learning like KDI School. I think that combining both activities would be challenging. I envisage the time difference being a major challenge but feasible. I am grateful to the faculty professors who have made special adjustments to their classes. I am more than committed to finalizing my studies at the end of this temporary situation. So far, I have been able to manage both simultaneously, taking online classes and making class presentations. For work, I keep a very clear schedule and do not include activities or meetings when they may clash with my class time or a break when I need to regain my strength/energy. I utilize the weekends and public holidays to spend more quality time with my family and engage in recreational activities.

How do you envision your appointment as the DAS will impact your local community and the district as a whole?

I am very optimistic that my appointment will have an impact on the citizens and affairs of Mafia Island in Tanzania. Mafia Island is famous for three economic activities, which include fishing, agriculture, and tourism. It also hosts amazing beaches, which present great potential for the tourism industry. There are also side attractions, underwater life, and historical sites. With this natural heritage, I, along with other administrative officers, will identify feasible strategies to continually bring investment and trade to the island, not only to improve the lifestyle of citizens but also to attract development, food production, employment opportunities, the preservation of natural resources, and the exchange of experiences. With my recent travels to Korea, there are a lot of learning opportunities for creativity and innovation in the industry in Tanzania in general. It has become the new normal, and I think this part of Africa should continue to embrace it.

I am glad to also mention that we have kicked off talks in this area. We at the council have organized a three-day exhibit event (August 28–30, 2023) that will showcase ideas for tourism and the display of fashion products. There is also going to be a symposium where stakeholders will discuss investment, opportunities, incentives, improvement of infrastructure, and challenges affecting the industry. I am confident that the previous working experience, learning, and simulation exercises learned during my time at KDI School will be of great benefit to me in my work as a DAS. 

How do you plan to stay connected with your colleagues while working remotely for your final semester?

I am constantly in talks with my colleagues and classmates at KDI school; we still share classes and group assessments via email and social media platforms. After bonding for almost a year, it is difficult to lose touch and connection. I do miss them, for sure, but we try to check on each other when we have the chance. Besides people, I also do miss the school environment, which airs a sense of pride for diverse experiences and humility to gain more knowledge and experiences. These memories will forever remain with me, and I am glad I made the best use of my time during my stay. I can confidently rely on the KDIS Alumni network should I find myself visiting within the continent or overseas.

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SHOLANKE, Rilwan Olasubomi

2022 Fall / MPM / Nigeria

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