Samiha Hamdi

MPS, Global Development
  • Hometown: West Lafayette, Indiana
  • College attended and major: Indiana University, B.A in Biology with concentrations in Restoration Ecology and Animal Behavior
Tell us a fun fact about you.

I'm also a dancer and a writer! Although I haven't performed in years, I was looking forward to performing dance to a public audience prior to COVID-19.

What impact do you want to make on the world?

I want to work towards a world that is equitable, just, and decolonized. I hope communities can come together in solidarity for each others' struggles and to support sovereignty among themselves and among other communities in need of support. I hope to impact the world by advocating for our collective liberation from colonization and injustice. I want to create a world in which Earth and environmental rights are recognized and honored, and all communities are able to access and mobilize the resources that exist within them. I hope to impact the world by creating space for the voiceless to be heard and acknowledged for their strength and wisdom, and to work towards respecting the regenerative Earth.

What were you doing before the MPS program?

Prior to the MPS program, I have been working with a non-profit, Fresh Approach, in the Bay Area (occupied Ohlone Huichin land). My work at Fresh Approach has focused on food access, sovereignty, and justice as well as nutrition education, urban agriculture, and community equity. I work with lower-income and historically oppressed communities who lack access to healthy fruits, vegetables, and nutritional information. I collaborate with smaller farmers to bring their organic, locally grown, and delicious produce to communities in need of healthy foods, all for free or at a very reduced price to in-need communities. We also work with the community directly to support them in implementing their own vision of positive change. Prior to this, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Panama, specializing in Community Environmental Conservation. In Panama, I collaborated with my community to support their own sovereignty. We worked to reduce the amount of waste created, implement more sustainable energy sources, worked towards regenerative and organic agriculture as a means of growth, and worked to empower young women and girls to fulfill their dreams.

What does global development mean to you?

To me, global development means collaboration in solidarity and understanding with a framework of sovereignty rather than control. It means connecting to others on an intimate level, through cultural humility and understanding historical and cultural context of one's presence. It means to honor and acknowledge the innumerable contributions of the many generations and many cultures before us, and the many whose efforts were thwarted. Global development means to approach the impending globalization in a humble, equitable, mindful, and hopeful manner. It means to create spaces for those whose voices have been shut down to be heard and recognized.

What has been the most memorable or impactful experience of your career so far?

By far, my time in Peace Corps Panama has been the most impactful experience of my life and career. To this day, I still carry each intimate connection with community members, and I consider them my family. My time in Peace Corps truly taught me what it means to be in community and solidarity with others, and to work towards a common goal of sovereignty, independence, and justice. I was repeatedly humbled to collaborate with such wise and talented individuals. I take what I learned in Peace Corps and from my community and apply it to my life and my work everyday, and I hope to honor the work that my community has been doing for generations.

How do you envision your MPS degree contributing to your career?

I envision my MPS degree contributing to my career by enhancing my knowledge, understanding, and experience of sustainable and regenerative development. I envision this supporting me through allowing me to engage with different systems of thinking and beliefs, while collaborating with others with similar goals. I believe it will support me in gaining more skills in analytical systems thinking, refining my current skills in communication and writing, collaboration with others, connecting me to a network of change agents, and through allowing me to further develop and understand my interests. I also envision the degree equipping me with a more technical and historical understanding of international agricultural systems, social and cultural systems, and global climate change science.