After the summer I spent volunteering with CDI, I was sad to leave Tanzania and return to the UK knowing that I would be leaving behind many of the new friends I had made, along with the beautiful country of Tanzania itself and the innovative and impactful project work I had enjoyed so much. I had questions in my mind such as wondering what the next Project Directors would decide to do, how they would build on the work to which my teammates and I had contributed, and how they would ensure CDI’s work increasingly achieved a sustainable and tangible impact through innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit, as well as local ownership and scalability.
As I have just alluded to, one of the main reasons I was drawn to volunteer for CDI was their strong core values, and during my summer in Tanzania I really felt that I got to see those in action, as I’m sure many readers will be able to second. Furthermore, just as reading about CDI’s core values drew me to want to see how they could be implemented, which led to my summer of volunteering, in the same way, what felt like only a brief summer of volunteering left me wanting to know how those same core values would allow CDI to bring change to the communities of Dar es Salaam after my volunteering contribution was over.
Two years ago, CDI took up the opportunity to keep CDI alumni continuously updated with the current work of CDI by setting up the Alumni Officer role. Since then, alumni have been able to subscribe to a mailing list in order to receive periodic newsletter updates from the Alumni Officer, as well as to be informed of upcoming alumni socials and to be invited to join CDI alumni groups on social media, through which alumni can keep in touch and share relevant articles and job adverts.
With this year marking five years since CDI was founded, myself as the Alumni Officer, alongside the Junior Board, are looking for ways to enhance and develop the important relationship CDI has with its alumni. As a result of these five years of CDI, we now have an extensive alumni community whose reflection on their time with CDI and subsequent experiences in careers and paths of all kinds gives them much to offer the current CDI committee and volunteers. In a recent survey, the majority of CDI alumni indicated both a desire to hear more from CDI in addition to wanting more opportunities to contribute to the life of CDI themselves, in various ways. For example, alumni expressed a desire to contribute more to volunteer training and project strategy, as well as an interest in blog writing and providing career advice to current volunteers.
The CDI alumni are an extensive, diverse and invaluable community and hence it is important that CDI continues to value and develop this relationship in order to realise its full potential.
By Sam Watson, Alumni Officer 2018/19
Sam is a fourth-year student studying Chemical Engineering at Jesus College.