Meet the interns | Eric Bell

23 June 2014 | ResolutionPossible

After  a little break to let you digest the first two entries for our ‘Meet the interns’ series in which our interns and alumni get to write about their own work experience and education, as well as their time with Resolution:Possible, we’re bringing you the third entry. We have been very fortunate to have people from all sorts of backgrounds working with us, and we wanted to share with you this great variety. We also hope that these blogs may inspire you to follow your own dreams (read the first two blogs from Becky and Harriet here).

Eric Bell joined Resolution:Possible in February 2014.  His initial work consisted of Perspective Pieces for Resolution: Possible’s DRC series.  After joining as a content researcher, he contributed extensively to the Rwanda and Burundi series.  He is currently working on a new series which will focus on non-governmental armed groups operating within the DRC.  Eric is also writing his dissertation for his International Development: Poverty, Conflict and Reconstruction MA at the University of Manchester’s Institute for Development Policy and Management.  Nearly all of his postgraduate research has been focused on central African conflict and reconstruction, while his dissertation explores the links between aid, governance and conflict in the DRC.

My interests in international affairs, and Africa specifically, developed at a very young age.  I was born in France and spent the majority of my childhood there.  My family life incorporated a variety of different influences from around the world.  My father, who is British, spent a good portion of his life living in various places from Ethiopia to the Dominican Republic.  My mother, who is American, also encouraged this inclusive sense of multiculturalism based on her Scottish and German roots.

This background led me to study international relations and European politics at the University of South Carolina in the US.  While there, I became involved with an organisation called the Central Asian Institute which constructed and ran schools in northern Pakistan and Afghanistan with the primary goal of female education.  I ran a fundraising campaign called Pennies for Peace at the University which raised money for the organisation.  This experience, working with an international aid organisation, profoundly influenced my future career and educational choices.

Me (left) and a mate shopping for djellabas in Morocco.

Me (left) and a mate shopping for djellabas in Morocco.

While doing my undergraduate degree, I became focused on politics, human rights, and conflict in the Balkans following the breakup of Yugoslavia.  This interest allowed me to spend a semester at the University of Grenoble in France, where I was able to collect primary data on secession movements in Europe, particularly in Belgium.  It was also during this time that I made my first trip to Africa, which made me rethink my European political focus.

From this research, I began drawing comparisons to conflicts in central Africa.  These comparisons, coupled with an interest in aid and humanitarianism, led me to pursue a postgraduate degree in international development at the University of Manchester in the UK.  Nearly all of my research has remained centred on aspects of aid, conflict, and reconstruction in the DRC and central Africa.  My dissertation, which I am currently writing, focuses on much of the same.

I began working with Resolution:Possible by contributing independent perspective pieces on the DRC.  Shortly thereafter, I began what has been an enriching and engaging position as content research intern.  The position has greatly strengthened my current knowledge on conflict and reconstruction in central Africa, while also introducing me to alternate views I may not have noticed.  Since my postgraduate research and dissertation go hand-in-hand with the topics Resolution:Possible covers, the position has given me a more well-rounded understanding of the issues I research.  This well-roundedness is not always easy as it often encompasses conflicting views and uncomfortable realities.  However, overcoming these obstacles is what has made the position with Resolution:Possible such an enriching part of my career and education.  My colleagues at Resolution:Possible have been an integral part of this process.  Through honest discussions with people of varying areas of expertise and experience, it is possible to craft multi-dimensional analyses and look at issues from different perspectives.

My ultimate goal (after finishing this dissertation, of course), is to work on community-driven reconstruction projects in sub-Saharan Africa.  My time with Resolution: Possible has strengthened the skills needed for this goal and I look forward to continuing to contribute to a great organization.

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