60 seconds with... Luke Tumelty, JOA's programme associate

03 October 2023
Luke joined the JOA team in May 2023 as our programme associate. He will soon be leaving us to join our partner, HelpAge International, for the final 12 months of his placement.

Who I am; why I'm at JOA; where I'm about to go


I finished my master’s in environmental science at Stirling in 2021 and since then have had a number of temporary jobs. I had a stint looking at creepy-crawlies in microscopes, stacked countless shelves and during the second and third waves of the pandemic worked in a storage container processing Jersey's COVID samples. I came to JOA after a year spent working in Belgium researching bushmeat hunting and working part time in a bar. In total, my JOA internship will last 18 months, during which time I will go from Jersey onto London to work with a JOA partner (HelpAge International), then onto an undecided location to work in-country on a development project ran by HelpAge International. Before all this happens, I'll be travelling to Moldova in October to spend a week with the different teams and individuals I'll be working with, who are all dotted around the world.


Why did I apply for JOA's programme associate role?


When I saw the advert for the programme associate role in the JEP I thought it would be a great opportunity to develop more skills for working in the sustainable development sector as well as to learn first-hand from a close-knit team how development agencies like JOA work in the day-to-day. I found it difficult to decide what I really wanted to do after graduating, how I could apply all that I had learnt during my studies to something I could feel proud of in the face of all the challenges our planet faces in the 21st century. JOA and this internship stood out to me as a way to get involved in exactly the kind of work that would help me to achieve this, they fund so many exciting and innovative projects around the world that sit at the interface of people and the environment, and I've learnt so much already.


Highlight of my time here


The highlight of my time so far has been getting to travel to Bugurama in Rwanda as part of a volunteering project with Hands Around the World Jersey. After only two months in the JOA office they sent me off to accompany a group of Jersey volunteers to deliver a teaching programme aimed at improving Rwandan teachers' confidence in speaking English. In the two weeks I spent there I experienced so much, was welcomed into the community with such warmth and hospitality and even got to see Baboons and Colobus monkeys in Nyungwe Forest National Park. 


What did I learn from the Rwanda trip


As well as being a lot of fun, the Rwanda trip taught me a lot. I got a chance to support the team leader in facilitating the project implementation which means being able make decisions to adapt to constantly changing circumstances, predict things that could go wrong and keep everyone happy. I got the opportunity to teach a class by myself and had to think on my feet to keep the attention of an energetic bunch of Rwandan Year 4s. The trip was also culturally enriching, getting to meet people from such a remote and far-away place and exchange ideas, stories and experiences. As I will soon be off to work in another country for six months alongside colleagues who will have different backgrounds to me, this was a great way to give me a taste of what's to come.