Shine on: Norwich student wins national award
2010: The British Council has named Melissa Ilboudo
from Burkina Faso its International Student of the Year, after she raised over £200,000 for her home country.
The 24-year-old international development undergraduate at the University of East Anglia was one of 12 regional finalists selected out of 1,300 students from 121 countries who entered this year’s British Council competition, known as Shine!
Her letter home describing her experiences of living and studying in the UK was judged to be the most inspiring by a panel of representatives from the British Council, the National Union of Students, the UK Council for International Student Affairs, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Times Higher Education.
The letter tells how she had a strong desire both to raise awareness of the effects of climate change and to support the work of two non-governmental organisations operating in Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries of Africa.
Melissa, who is a member of Norwich Family Life Church
, worked with Christian Aid
to raise £50,000 for the NGOs through fundraising events in Norfolk and Suffolk. This was matched with funding from the European Union, taking the total to £200,000.
In addition, her tireless work raising awareness of climate change earned her an invitation to attend the recent United Nations summit in Copenhagen, where she had what she called “another unforgettable experience” – shaking hands with Barack Obama.
Melissa said: “I heard about the Shine! awards only one hour before the deadline when my friend told me about them, and although I was in the middle of my dissertation, I decided to go for it.”
Melissa’s appeal for Burkina Faso continues, supporting farmers who are turning desert back into productive agricultural land. Gifts can be made out to ‘Christian Aid’, marked ‘Burkina Faso’ and sent c/o Eldred Willey at the Kings Centre, King Street, Norwich NR1 1PH. The European Union will quadruple all donations.
The pictures show Melissa with friend Lydia Munyi and academic advisor Ben Jones on the way to the awards (above) and with Vernon Ellis, Chair of the British Council, and TV presenter Konnie Huq, receiving the trophy (below).