Hanqi Liao

MSc International Disaster Management. Graduated 2019.

What inspired you to study this course?

When I was an undergraduate, I worked as a volunteer helping underprivileged primary school students and their families in Sichuan Province, China. At that time, I could only help them by donating and collecting supplies such as books, clothes, and stationery. The families I supported were severely affected by disasters, such as earthquakes, landslides, and mudslides, and the support I provided could only help in the short-term.  

After completing a module called "Emergency Management of Government", I realised that I could do more to change the situation they suffered by reducing the risk before the disaster and "Build Back Better" after the disaster. At that time, I was an undergraduate student studying Political and Administration at the Chengdu University of Technology. Although I had already received an offer from the University of Manchester to study Political Science, I still decided to pursue HCRI's MSc in International Disaster Management.

How has your career progressed since completing your course?

Hanqi with a group in Sichuan, China.

After graduating, I completed an internship with a county government as an administrative assistant. When COVID-19 emerged, I spent two months at home without any job opportunities. Although the pandemic has made it difficult for those securing work, we need to be prepared and keep learning relative skills to strengthen our competitiveness.

Last November, I started my current role for the Department of Assessment and Emergency Management, the National Disaster Reduction Centre of China. My work involves conducting assessments in disaster loss, risk, reduction/relief, and carry out disaster emergency response fieldwork. It's fascinating to achieve my daily work goal in reducing the risk that disaster brings to alleviate peoples' suffering.

How have the skills and knowledge gained on the course helped you in your current role/career progression?

Hanqi on an HCRI research visit in Uganda.
Hanqi (bottom left) on an HCRI research visit in Uganda.

The skills and knowledge have been beneficial to my current career. For example, I can easily use the ArcGIS mapping system and understand how to make geographic information products, thanks to the module "A Critical Introduction to GIS and Disaster".

Other modules such as "Disaster Governance", "Disaster Management", "Humanitarian Diplomacy and Negotiation" have informed and supplemented my daily work.

In the "Humanitarian Diplomacy and Negotiation" module my classmates and I invited and interviewed experts to join our lecture, which gave me lots of practice experience preparing and contributing to meetings at work.

Do you have any advice for people wanting to follow in your footsteps?

HCRI is a good choice for international students interested in humanitarian and disaster management. If you want to apply to this course, good English language use will help you settle in quickly at the beginning. Secondly, for international students, having a good work-life balance for studying is another question that you need to ask yourself before applying to this course. HCRI gives you plenty of resources and opportunities to learn about real-world examples of disaster management and humanitarians worldwide, such as the SIMEX Emergency Response Simulation and research visit to Uganda.

What did you enjoy most about HCRI?

I most enjoyed the encouragement provided by all the staff at HCRI. I struggled a lot initially due to the cultural differences and language barrier. Still, thanks to the team at HCRI, especially my supervisor Catherine Arthur, I was able to rebuild my confidence.