Learning to Appreciate Water

30 Years of Development-Related Postgraduate Courses – Looking Back, Forward and Inward

Mayday Thomas, Namibia
2013-2015 “Hydro Science and Engineering”, TU Dresden

Mayday Thomas is actively involved in encouraging environmentally-friendly water management in Namibia. She came to the TU Dresden in 2013, to earn a Master’s degree in Hydro Science and Engineering in order to develop her career in this field. Back in her home country, she is trying to find her professional path.

Mayday Thomas in Meißen near Dresden © private

“Namibia is a very arid country – the population must deal with water more consciously”, says Mayday Thomas. After completing her first degree course in Fisheries and Aquatic Science at the University of Namibia, the biologist worked in projects to raise public awareness, on behalf of organisations like the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). She mobilised local communities and especially pupils to think of ways in which they could use resources more carefully. “I am passionate about sensitising people in remote areas on the valuable water resources and initiating change on this basis.”

In 2013, in order to increase the scope and impact of her work, Mayday Thomas decided on the DAAD-funded Master programme Hydro Science and Engineering at the TU Dresden. “The new know-how advanced my technical competence, but it was the multicultural environment in the degree course that really helped me to develop personally”, says the DAAD alumna. “In the two-year programme, I learned to be more patient and tolerant of others and to accept differences.”

Second Home Germany
Germany has become a kind of second home to her. “I will never forget this period of my life! The people in Dresden were always kind and very curious to learn more about me.” Thomas also enjoyed extensive support from the DAAD. “It wasn’t just the scholarship. The people responsible always provided us with advice and personal support – I’m still very grateful for that today.”
She advises other scholarship holders to make full use of their time in Germany. “Establish direct contact with your lecturers, make friends with fellow students, and above all, explore Germany and Europe. This is a unique opportunity.”

The technical know-how that the water expert acquired at the TU Dresden included what measures to take in regions with limited water resources and how these could be implemented. “I’m still not in the right position to be able to apply this knowledge comprehensively.” Mayday Thomas works as a programme officer in the administrative business of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which implements development projects in Namibia.

Using the opportunity: Mayday Thomas explored Germany with fellow students © private

Tough Competition
“The Namibian labour market is saturated, and especially in the water sector, competition for jobs is fierce”, the Namibian explains the situation in her home country. As a former biologist, it is not easy to compete for a position alongside professional engineers. “But I’m ready to face this challenge and hope that soon I’ll find a job that suits my passion and technical know-how.”