5. Matti Karvanen

Sponsor Club: Helsinki, Finland, District 1420

Matti 'Masa' Karvanen, is a Class VIII Rotary World Peace Fellow from Finland. His professional interest lies in African politics and conflicts, in particular those of the Horn of Africa, of which he became interested after having served 12 months as a UN peacekeeper in the UNMEE operation in Ethiopia and Eritrea, in 2003-2004. Masa served as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal specialist in the Finnish Guard and Headquarters Company.

Since finishing his 25-month-service with the Finnish Rapid Deployment Force in late-2004, Matti has gained work experience from South Africa, Canada, Sweden, Czech Republic, Belgium and Australia, with organisations varying from the Finland’s Foreign Ministry to university institutions, NGOs and the UN. Among else, he has got involved in managing the Finnish government's local development assistance projects in Southern Africa, and before commencing his fellowship in Australia he performed a 6-month internship with the UN Refugee Agency's Regional Office for Baltic and Nordic Countries, getting involved in monitoring the European Union asylum policy.

For his summer internship, or 'Applied Field Experience', at the University of Queensland, Masa worked for three months with the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO) in Brussels, which included writing papers on EU Small Arms and Light Weapons Policy, as well as on the EU’s involvement in third countries’ Security Sector Reform (SSR). During his studies in Brisbane Matti has also worked part-time as a Project Assistant with the UQ Centre for Communication and Social Change (CfCSC), located in the School of Journalism and Communication, which focuses on participatory development practises in the Asia-Pacific region, applying communication processes and methods to allow social change to happen in communities. Masa’s tasks have included assisting in drafting project proposals, and writing funding applications.

Matti holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences in Development Studies from the University of Helsinki. He has also conducted a Master’s programme in Development Studies, but did not get to write his Master’s thesis, as he left to South Africa to work with the Finnish Embassy. After finishing his fellowship he plans to return to Finland and finish the missing thesis from his Development Studies programme. At the same time, he is planning to start applying for junior professional positions with the UN, EU, or other organisations to gain more invaluable work experience in the field of conflict resolution and international development. In the coming years he also hopes to undertake a PhD programme, possibly in the UK or the US.