Joseph Hadwal (USA)
MSc History of International Relations (2014/15)
Systemic inequity is both a historical truth and an unfortunate present reality within America’s urban public schools. Decades of continual injustice by misaligned structures (in both public and private) harms student potential and curtails community growth. The MSc in History of International Relations provided me with the analytical lenses and the aptitude to help sheppard community members through this quagmire of injustice. Prior to attending the LSE, I earned my undergraduate degree from Midwestern State University with the initial intention of pursuing law. Such ambition, although authentically mine, reflected the sleepy, conservative, manicured North Texas environment that I called home during my adolescence. But as I took those first steps across LSE’s winding Portugal Street, my desire evolved. Enveloped by the many different nationalities and languages voiced around me, I recognized both the universality of our shared existence and yet my own smallness stemming from my North Texas background. Eager to submerge myself within this international setting I registered for HY435: Political Islam - Ibn Taymiyya to ISIS, HY436: Race, Violence and Colonial Rule in Africa, EU475: Muslims in Europe, SA4D5: Social Rights and Human Welfare, which all provided me the framework and experience needed to combate inequity.
As an LSE International History student, my academic repertoire was enriched and expanded. Within HY435, Dr Gohel’s rigorous seminars and exceedingly high expectations molded me not only into a scholar of counter terrorism but armed me with the academic confidence needed to face any challenge. In Dr Lewis’s HY436 class, I surveyed sub-saharan systems of colonial oppression and how those historic waves of inequity continually crash rudely against our edifices of postmodernity. Importantly, the International History department gave me the freedom to take classes outside the history core. With such freedom, I took SA4D5 which helped me gain an understanding and love for social justice. The culmination of history and human rights inspired me to pursue a dissertation topic that investigate structural oppression. Traveling to Gaborone, Botswana, I sought to outline the history of early HIV/AIDS and better understand how that virus ravaged the Sub-Sahara. Combing over archival records at the Botswana Record Service, I uncovered a long and eclipsed history of colonial health officials using dubious disinfection methods during mass inoculations: potentially allowing the HIV/AIDS virus a means of mass contamination. Although international travel is not required for the International History Department’s dissertation, I felt emboldened by the outstanding research produced by my peers and professors to venture to a place I had never visited before and conduct my own investigation.
During my studies, my LSE friends and professors motivated me through tough assignments that only months prior I would have found insurmountable. Always, I felt comfortable expressing myself and showcasing the vulnerability needed to become a more developed self. My professors were always available for questions or comments (despite their many award winning book publications and renowned international conferences). Feeling valued within such a dynamic environment allowed me actualize my ambitions - as an advocate for the disenfranchised. Readjusting to the United States (particularly the Great Plains) after my extended time in London, was challenging. I missed the more urban landscape that I had become accustomed to and the type of sophistication central London can only provide. However, my LSE experiences and study continued to shape my outlook and career. Initially, I worked at a homeless shelter performing clerical duties ensuring smooth operation and empowering residents to access services which would best benefit them. Later, I joined Teach For America to combat educational inequality. Placed in Mississippi, I taught English Literature and History to students who would have gone without such instruction due to teacher shortages. Often, my students originate from home structures that lack the resources to provide them with the necessary materials and emotional supports to enter young adulthood. During my time as a teacher, I have helped students pass state tests and earn scholarships which will help empower themselves to make their own future decisions.
In the near future, I anticipate earning my Master’s in Social Work so I can continue working with these vulnerable populations with a greater degree of agency. Despite its stereotypes, Mississippi and the greater south has become home: one where I can make a difference. But my desire for a service career started at the LSE. London was where I was enriched by the instructors of an excellent faculty and where I was exposed to the entire world on the few short winding streets of Portugal and Houghton.