SOAS University of London

Ifat Gazia, 1st Year

My ambition after studying Development Studies at SOAS is that I may return to Kashmir and work with an international humanitarian organisation in order to make a real difference to people’s lives.

Growing up in Kashmir, I was exposed to the politics of war at a very early age. My primary school was next to a military camp, and my childhood was a struggle for existence in a region where terrorist acts, curfews, and political violence were commonplace. My great passion during these years was for writing stories, and this developed into an interest in journalism. I started sending articles to magazines and entering writing competitions, and it was with a great sense of pride that I saw my first byline attached to a printed article. In 2011, as part of a journalistic investigation into the murder of an eight-year-old Batamalloo boy by the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) in India, I produced a documentary film called Long Ago I Died. The film was released on Youtube and received a lot of international commentary and exposure. I was writing grassroots, human-interest stories, but I was becoming frustrated at not being able to make a difference to the lives of the people I was writing about. It was at this same time that I first became aware of SOAS. I kept being told that SOAS was the place for me. At the time I had no relevant experience or qualifications; I did not even possess a passport, but I met a member of the SOAS Student Recruitment team in Delhi and he encouraged me to make an application. It has been a long journey, but I am now studying in London. I am enjoying being able to learn a wide range of subjects at SOAS, and with this knowledge comes the chance to do whatever you want in life. SOAS opens minds and broadens the spectrum of opportunities. My ambition after studying Development Studies at SOAS is that I may return to Kashmir and work with an international humanitarian organisation in order to make a real difference to people’s lives.