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Dionne Wong: Humanitarian at heart

Beatrice Smith

When Dionne Wong told her parents at age eight that she wanted to live in Africa, she probably didn’t envision herself becoming the Youth Ambassador for Development for the Presbyterian Church of Ghana by age 21 before being seconded to CARE Nepal as the current Information Manager for the Emergency Response team at CARE Australia.

“I have always wanted to do international development and as I got older, I wanted to also be involved in humanitarian response,” says Dionne.

While Ghana fulfilled Dionne’s humanitarian ambitions, she says that she wanted to up-skill and build on her knowledge and capacity to work in development.

“I decided to go back to uni [to study] a Masters of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development in Conflict and Development,” she says.

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Dionne completed her Masters at the Australian National University at the College of Arts and Social Sciences.

Dionne began to work for CARE Australia in late 2014, after time as a volunteer in the Gender in Emergencies team earlier that year. Dionne is currently based in Kathmandu, Nepal where she supports operations that cover everything from the provision of emergency shelter and sanitation to building awareness about reproductive health and sexual and gender based violence as part of a complex, global team.

“Every day is a little bit different. We have a team from around the world who joined CARE Nepal so it’s been really fantastic coming into a global team with experts from everywhere,” says Dionne.

At the moment, Dionne and her team are working around the clock to continue earthquake relief efforts before the monsoon season reaches its peak.

“There have been some landslides and that means that our teams are working overtime to make sure we get things to where they have to be before road access becomes more challenging. This week I’ve spent a lot of time with our shelter advisors and our food security and livelihood experts because we’re trying to get emergency shelter and seeds distributed before the rains really set in,” she says.

It’s clear that her Masters degree nurtured Dionne’s passion for humanitarian aid and development. When asked what advice she would give to future students, Dionne’s advice matches her practical approach to humanitarian aid.

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“I spent a lot of time in the library, so it’s good to go to a library that has microwaves so that you can heat up your lunch.”

“You should definitely bring a thermos as well because especially during winter you can have endless cups of tea while you’re studying. I think if you’re new to Canberra – which I was – having a bike is probably one of the best investments” says Dionne.

Dionne also states,“You should do something that you really want to study – I don’t really like studying but because [development] was something I was really passionate about I wanted to go to class and learn more about it.”

If you’re passionate about humanitarianism, foreign aid, or want to find out more about Masters degrees in Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development, the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences has a broad range of study options to help you achieve your eight year old self’s dreams. Applications for semester two study are still open.

Photo courtesy of Tom Greenwood.

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Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Editorial Coordinator involves eating, drinking and interviewing people - sometimes simultaneously. The master of HerCanberra’s publishing schedule, she’s usually found hunched over a huge calendar muttering to herself about content balance. Otherwise you’ll find her at the movies, ordering a cheese board or ordering a cheese board at the movies. More about the Author

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