Ruby-Anne Birin hopes to use her work to establish a meaningful dialogue in modern people’s lives. The 25-year-old is an archaeological science student. Her current research focuses on understanding when people invent, adopt and abandon new technologies in Southern Africa. Birin hopes that the public engagement projects she works on will provide South African citizens of varying backgrounds more equitable access to their heritage.
“We can develop a space to appreciate, understand and advocate for our heritage,” she says. Through excavations she has learnt how people in the past lived and how that has affected the present.
Birin is a recent graduate from the University of Oxford where she completed her master’s — and she says that getting accepted into Oxford University was one of the biggest surprises of her life.
She’s a firm believer in being her own best advocate. Birin says she has also recognised that it is up to her to be a responsible member of society. “It is up to us to acknowledge when something is wrong and to respond positively by creating thoughtful and meaningful dialogue in a way that will create change.” It is this ideal which guides her. Birin says she is driven in her research by the desire to better understand South Africa’s complicated and shared past. She is also someone who always believes in grabbing every opportunity presented to her. But more than that, she says it is important to look for opportunities which aren’t obvious and make the most of those. “Each opportunity taken leads to another door, allowing your interests and conscience to guide which door to choose,” she says.