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CEID Featured Alumni: Maria Jose Casares Garcia

Maria Jose Casares Garcia

Maria Jose Casares Garcia, CEID Class of 2022                                                           

Nationality: Mexican

Current Position: Independent Consultant


Hello CEID Community,

I’m Maria Jose Casares Garcia, a proud 2022 alumna of the CEID MSc program. Currently, I’m embarking on a new learning journey in Community Networks at an international organization, LocNet. As part of the training team, I focus on enhancing community networks as communication and learning strategies. These strategies empower communities to address their communication needs and access to information, fostering autonomy and self-determination.

Reflecting on my post-Masters journey, I’ve realized the pivotal role CEID played in shaping my career. The courses, events, and connections I made there significantly contributed to my personal and professional growth, providing a broader world perspective. Each experience during my MSc endowed me with a strong academic foundation, a global outlook, and practical skills vital in education. For instance, my recent collaboration with international organizations like APC involved evaluating the National Schools of Community Networks in Brazil, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa (2021-2023). A key aspect of my involvement was my familiarity with different methodologies, particularly Participatory Action Research (PAR). Without this knowledge, I wouldn’t have been effective in this role. Now, working with people who apply theory in practice, I’ve grown passionate about PAR, recognizing its relevance in addressing community needs and aspirations.

Despite these enriching experiences, I’ve also encountered challenges. Issues like connectivity, communication systems, and understanding the needs of rural and indigenous communities remain complex and demand continuous learning. I’ve often felt overwhelmed, lacking various tools and knowledge. However, maintaining humility, effective communication, openness to learning, and expressing doubts have fostered a trusting and supportive work environment, aiding my continuous growth.


Facing Challenges Post-Masters

 Transitioning from academia to a professional setting was challenging. Post-masters, I navigated a complex job market, trying to align my aspirations with reality. Initially, I pursued job opportunities that met my flexibility and salary expectations. However, I soon realized these weren’t my primary concerns. I yearned for challenges and learning opportunities, understanding that my “next job” wouldn’t be my dream job. This realization helped me value and prioritize long-term goals, leading to gratitude and humility about my achievements and future prospects.


Future Goals

Looking forward, my aim is to continue learning, aspiring to make impactful contributions in education and foster positive change. I plan to use my skills and experiences not only professionally and academically but also as an empathetic and respectful human being. I’ve learned that people often value these personal qualities over knowledge and experience, which can always be acquired. The essence of who you are and choose to be is crucial.


Advice for Aspiring Professionals

For those pursuing a career in this field, I offer three pieces of advice:

  • Know What You Want: Prioritize your values over following trends. Even if a job seems prestigious, consider what truly fulfills you. Focus on what’s most important for your wellbeing. Opportunities aligned with your core values are easier to navigate than venturing aimlessly.
  •  Have a Balanced Life: Engage with your community and professional passions, but also embrace hobbies and social activities. Remember the importance of vacations and relaxation. Strive for a life that balances career ambitions with personal interests and wellbeing.
  • Ask for Help: Life can be overwhelming; it’s okay to seek help. Requesting assistance shows your humanity, not weakness. Embrace vulnerability as a strength, building genuine connections and support networks for challenging times.


In closing, embrace each moment of your journey. Learn from every experience and use this knowledge to forge your unique path to success. Your journey is uniquely yours – cherish it and let it guide you towards greatness.


Warm regards,

Maria Jose Casares Garcia


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CEID Featured Alumni: Nan Li


Nan Li, CEID Class of 2020
Nationality: Chinese
Current Position: Teacher at Hangzhou Youth & Children’s Center

I currently work as an educator at Hangzhou Youth & Children’s Center, a public welfare institute supported by both the Zhejiang Provincial and Hangzhou Municipal governments. With a mission to provide high-quality extracurricular education, the center offers a variety of classes in fields such as sports, arts, and more.

Since graduation, I’ve been a teacher in the International Culture School at the Hangzhou Youth & Children’s Center. My role involves teaching English to students, primarily minors, to build a strong language foundation for their future and develop their cross-cultural communication skills. Additionally, I oversee teaching administration and participate in curriculum research and development, creating new extracurricular programs that align with China’s Double Reduction Policy. On top of that, given my workplace’s focus on activity-based education, I also organize various thematic educational activities.

While this job may seem unrelated to CEID on the surface, when I reflect on my journey, it’s clear that studying CEID in Edinburgh provided me with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in my current role. One of the courses I took, Youth Studies, sparked my passion for working with teenagers. I realized that a job in a youth-centered environment would provide the opportunity to gain practical experience and make a difference in the lives of young people. The transferable skills honed in CEID courses, such as critical thinking, cross-cultural understanding, and policy interpretation, also gave me the edge I needed to secure this position.

Another key difference between my current workplace and the public education system in China is the level of flexibility and autonomy we have in developing new curricula. Thanks to the theories and knowledge I gained in The Curriculum: Context, Change and Development course, I was able to work with my team to navigate the complexities of designing new programs. One of our latest curricula, the International Youth and Children’s Camp, is a speaking-focused program designed to develop teenagers’ intercultural communication skills. The program is designed to expose students to a wide range of cultures, including Hangzhou local culture, Chinese culture, and worldwide culture. The goal is for students to learn to confidently introduce their hometown culture in English, promote Chinese culture, foster patriotic sentiments, and ultimately develop an international perspective. Being able to apply the theories I learned to practical situations has been incredibly rewarding. The analytical skills I gained in the Education Policy and Politics of Education course were also invaluable in the development of this program, as they enabled me to delve into the Double Reduction policy and create an off-campus program that aligned with the policy’s principles.


This is a no-brainer to say that what I have gone through in CEID in Edinburgh has made who I am for the time being. The experiences I had in CEID courses, townhalls and related events as well as the skills I gained were like puzzle pieces, each one forming a part of the bigger picture of who I am today.


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