Soneel Ram, International Humanitarian Law Dissemination and Communications Officer at the Fiji Red Cross Society, recently completed the online diploma course on Humanitarian Diplomacy offered by DiploFoundation and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). He heard about the course through an e-mail invitation sent out from the IFRC. Following the course, we asked him a few questions about his experience.
Did the course teach you practical skills which you were able to use in your professional or personal environment? Can you give an example?
Yes, it very much did. In my opinion, most importantly, this course taught me how to write briefing notes and make high-level presentations. It also taught me how to write concisely and to the point. Another skill which this course taught me was complying with protocols which we sometimes forget to follow when engaging in talks with high-level delegations. I also learned about how we should not compromise what our humanitarian mandate is when negotiating with actors.
How interactive was the course? Did this interaction help you to learn? Can you give an example of how?
This course was very interactive especially during the online chat sessions. The lecturers were very accommodating to our queries and questions. Having to work with the other participants, especially during the group assignment, helped us to get to know one another and most importantly, to know about each other’s different roles in our respective lines of work.
Was this method of online learning convenient for you? How easy was it to combine learning with working and other responsibilities?
At first I thought online learning would not be as interactive and engaging as a real classroom experience. However, I was actually surprised that this method proved to be really interactive especially during the online chat sessions. Being employed full time and doing this course online really worked well together. We took part in online chat sessions one hour per week which helped us get on with our daily work and plan well so that we could attend this one hour session. The understanding of the Course Coordinator and Lecturers in terms of giving extensions to assignment due dates was also appreciated.
Is there some experience or aspect of learning which stands out as the most valuable or useful aspect of this course for you?
There was the time factor of attending and participating in the online chat sessions of one hour which, in my opinion, was quite short. However, as the course progressed I began to understand the essence of time. This also applied to writing which meant we were given a specific word count to work within and we had to make sure we wrote concisely. Keeping to the point when writing is something I have started to value as a result of this course.
What are the challenges in attending this course? What do you recommend to applicants to consider, before applying?
A lot of reading is required in this course. Reading not only the online modules available as part of the course but taking time out to research and read other similar journals, articles, resolutions, etc. If you job involves being out on the field most of the time then I would see that as a challenge. As for me, I was out on the field a few times during the duration of the course and found it quite challenging to attend the online sessions and submit the assignments on time. However, should you be out on the field with good internet connectivity and time management, I do not think there should be a problem.