My year in the UK as a Chevening Scholar


21-September-2011

 During his year of study, he also undertook a work placement at Foster and Freeman, a Jemmy Bouzin in snowy Scotlandleading forensic science equipment supplier. Here he recounts his experiences as a Chevening Scholar.

Since the dawn of man, crime has existed, and forensic science is the discipline that uses scientific principles to answer legal questions that concern crime. It is a subject that fascinates me, and though it has recently been glamourised by dramas like CSI, this isn’t why I chose it as my area of study. In the last few decades, forensics has barely existed in Seychelles but as we enter a new era of globalisation, this has brought an increase in crime and related social problems, which means that our forensic capabilities need to be improved. This is why I decided to take a first degree in forensic science and from there, my interest for the subject grew. 

For two years, I worked locally on the frontline, gaining on the job experience and assessing the challenges and issues of forensic science in Seychelles before deciding I would benefit from deepening my knowledge and expertise. My choice was clear, to further my studies in a country with excellent education standards and a similar judicial system to Seychelles - the UK. My only problem was how to get there, but then I heard about Chevening Scholarships, fully funded opportunities to study at postgraduate level in the UK, offered annually by the UK Government. After speaking to the British High Commission in Victoria, I made my application and found out not long after that I’d been successful! I was on my way to Strathclyde University in Scotland, one of the best recognised universities for forensic science.

Even though I’ve studied abroad before, I was in for more than I anticipated! Studying in another country is an extraordinary and fantastic opportunity as well as a great challenge, requiring the ability to adapt, to adjust to another culture and interact with people from varying backgrounds (never mind the formal learning). Living in a flat with five different nationalities, I soon learned about different cultures and became open and more aware of my own.

The kitchen was our favourite meeting place and became a true melting pot of cultures from the various smells and taste of food to the diverse accents of our frequent chats. A world apart a few days earlier, we were now living side by side, looking out for each other like a family. I realised then the importance, not just of studying but networking, and having the opportunity to meet people whom I would never have met otherwise, making new acquaintances and new friends. I have formed a personal network that I am sure will become one of the most important resources I have, not as a one-way street, but through mutually supporting each other, gaining new perspectives, asking questions and re-examining the answers to others.  It is a path of discovery where there are no mistakes to be made, only lessons to learn.

I adjusted quite well to my new life but I wish I could say the same of the weather. During the winter months, I watched the falling of snow out of the bedroom window as it slowly covered the street in a beautiful carpet of white. I watched how people went about their daily life, undeterred by the weather, in the same way that one can turn challenges into success.

There have been many memorable moments; I particularly enjoyed the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, a celebration which was warmly felt across the country and for which I had a real sense of experiencing history. The Champions League final, Barcelona vs Manchester United was another great moment. As a football enthusiast, I was able to soak up the atmosphere around Wembley and the streets of London, an amazing experience though a ticket would have been the icing on the cake.

My time in the UK has truly been valuable as it has given me a greater appreciation of the role of forensic science and its current dynamic nature, understanding how its use may be integrated in a small island state like Seychelles.

In the past, forensic science has focused on providing corroborative evidence during the case building phase of an investigation but now there is a shift to using it at the early stage of an enquiry, providing intelligence and influencing subsequent decisions, leading to calls for an increasing awareness between law enforcement officers, forensic scientists and prosecutors, as well as a structured management approach in the investigation of crime. For Seychelles, the growing number of crimes, including piracy, highlight the vital need for developing forensic science to help protect our citizens and deter future offenders.

That I had the opportunity to study at Strathclyde as a Chevening Scholar is a privilege and one that I intend to use to its best advantage when I return home.

Jemmy Bouzin

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