Rasha: “Building an international network is priceless”

Rasha Hassan

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Rasha Hassan from Spain is participating in the second group of the European Junior Water Programme (EJWP). She is sharing her experiences on Water News Europe. She is enthusiastic about meeting international water professionals and break down silos. “I have the ambition to be an intermediary in water between the European Union and the Middle East and North Africa.”

What did you study?

“I come from an interdisciplinary background in the water sector. I am a Ph.D. candidate in Natural Systems and Global Change at the University of Barcelona. I hold two master’s degrees: one is an Erasmus Joint Master’s Degree in Water and Coastal Management from the University of Bologna, and the other in environmental systems engineering from Tishreen University in Syria.  I have a BSc in civil engineering with a major in environmental engineering from Tishreen University, Syria.  I currently work as a Project Officer with H2O People in the Netherlands, and I’m a participant in EJWP2. It’s great!”

What do you hope to learn through EJWP?

“I think EJWP is the right step to embark on my European water sector path, as I am coming from Syria, so I hope to learn a lot. EJWP works on three main pillars, and I can relate to each one of them. My main aim is to further explore the diverse European mindsets and cultures which I have been doing since joining EJWP2, through working collectively with EJWP2 members and building my professional network by attending EJWP masterclasses and events. I am also interested in the integrated water management approach and systems thinking. My experience is being developed through EJWP2 projects, such as our latest project on ‘Ideal Drinking Water Infrastructure By 2030’ with De WaterGroep. I got to know more about the climatic challenges and their impacts on water resources in Europe. In addition, the personal and leadership development training has been so rewarding for me which I can observe not only in daily tasks but also in my personal life.”

What was your best experience with EJWP so far?

“I can say the live training week in The Hague & Delft in The Netherlands because it was a wonderful opportunity to meet my EJWP2 colleagues in person after a long time of meeting online during the pandemic lockdowns. We got the chance to spend a lot of time together which reflected positively on our dynamic as a team.  We visited different sites including the fourth largest wastewater treatment plant in the EU and became more familiar with Dutch mechanisms to cope with flooding.”

What have you already learned?

“The learning opportunities that EJWP provides are substantial and different from the academic field. For me, the key learning point is the real need for communication in the water sector. I was able to notice the silos thinking through working on different EJWP projects and networking with numerous professionals from all levels. We need to start communicating better across countries and cultures, so we can move together in a holistic way – especially as climate change is becoming more severe.”

What are the benefits of an international network?

“We are water, and water doesn’t have borders, so mimicking water and building an international network is priceless. Having an international network enables us to communicate better, exchange knowledge and make better decisions. Moreover, there is a need for water organizations to have team members with a European network if they want to further engage in the European projects such as Erasmus+ and Horizon projects.”

What can international water professionals mean for the water sector?

“Their added value comes from their ability to see all aspects of the issue, so they empower the water sector with holistic perspectives and enable forging an international water dialogue which will help us leaving behind the ‘silos thinking’ approach and support building a water-smart society.”

Where or in which position would you like to work in five years?

“Well, that could be a tricky question, but I can summarize my vision of the next five years in my career with the following: intermediary in water between EU and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region.”

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