Incoming: Omar Joya from Kabul, Afghanistan
Omar Joya arrived in Bordeaux in January 2022 within the framework of the PAUSE program. He is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Bordeaux School of Economics, University of Bordeaux.
How did you find out about the PAUSE program and how did the application procedure go?
When the Taliban militants took over Kabul in August 2021, I was Executive Director and Founding Member of the Biruni Institute, an economic policy think tank in the city. Initially, my family and I were not planning to leave the country. However after a few weeks and following a security threat, I realized risks were very high for people with profiles like mine, having worked for the World Bank for several years as a Country Economist for Afghanistan, and having taught at the American University of Afghanistan as an Assistant Professor of Economics.
Given that I had pursued the entirety of my higher education in France, in Strasbourg and in Bordeaux, I reached out to the French Embassy in Kabul to explore possibilities to move to France for a time, until the situation settled down. I was informed that the PAUSE program was best suited to reasearchers in my position (French national program for the urgent aid and reception of scientists in exile). The application process was straightforward and rapid, and the PAUSE team recognized the emergency nature of the situation for Afghan researchers and expedited the process.
Describe your arrival to Bordeaux
Settling in Bordeaux and integration here at the university was very smooth. I am extremely grateful to various individuals at the university who, in their personal capacities, extended support to my family and I. Besides my former professors and colleagues at the Bordeaux School of Economics, whom I knew from when I carried out my master and doctoral degrees in Bordeaux, the former Vice-President of of the Board of Directors graciously stepped up to host us for a week in his home until we found a temporary accommodation.
Similarly, colleagues at the Bordeaux School of Economics, including the Director of the research unit, were very supportive in not only making sure my integration in the research unit went well, but also in making sure that I did not encounter any issues in getting settled with my family in Bordeaux.
What are your objectives for your stay and what work have you accomplished so far?
My aim until the end of my engagement under the PAUSE program is to prepare myself for more stable options for employment in the academic milieu in France. I am now working on two research projects, focusing on poverty, political economy of foreign aid and social network theory, and I hope to publish two research papers by the end of the year. I'm hopeful that with these papers in hand, I’ll be able to seize some employment opportunities next year.
What are your impressions of the University of Bordeaux, the people, the city?
Bordeaux is a great city to live in. I particularly admire its people and its very pleasant and welcoming community. When I first moved in to Bordeaux during my graduate studies in 2011, I was impressed by the sociable and cordial society here. My family and I feel very fortunate that we are able to live in Bordeaux for the time being.
The Support Unit of the University of Bordeaux
Since early 2019, the University of Bordeaux has implemented a Support Unit that facilitates the admission of scientists who are experiencing an emergency situation. The aim is to welcome them for a sufficient period and thus ensure the continuity of their research and their integration within our city.
Within the PAUSE program, a personalized support process has been developed for the laureates and includes mentoring and guidance for:
- Language skills (French, scientific English)
- Useful scientific skills for professional development within the academic sector
- Useful skills for professional development outside the academic sector (e.g. transversal skills that may be used within the private sector)
For more information about this Support Unit, please contact the International Office.
The PAUSE program
Announced in October 2016 by the French Secretary of State for Higher Education and Research, the PAUSE program was officially launched in January 2017 by an agreement between the Ministry for Education and Research, Collège de France and The Chancellery of Parisian Universities. The national program brings together major institutions from the higher education and research community (CPU, CDEFI, CNRS, INSERM, INRAE, INRIA, CNOUS, AUF), the French Interior Ministry, the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture. After an evaluation process, it provides stimulus funding to French higher education establishments and research organizations who commit to the recruitment of scientists at risk and to supporting their professional and personal integration.
- For more information, consult the dedicated webpages