A commitment to intercultural understanding
As I look back on my time as International and Postgraduate Officer, three particular highlights stand out to me. The first is passing a policy at Better Forums to introduce compulsory intercultural training for students and staff at the University of Leeds. I pursued this policy because changes needed to be made to improve the sense of belonging of our large international student community, as well as to mitigate microaggressions and increase inclusion. The idea came out of an International Student Advisory Board meeting, where members spoke about their concerns of discrimination on and off campus. Naturally, the fair treatment and inclusion of all of our students is at the forefront of the work that I do, so it was important to me to use my role to take action. I was delighted that the policy passed at forum, and that lobbying the University for the introduction of mandatory training alongside that given on issues such as plagiarism will now be LUU policy until 2025. I’m excited to see where the Union and its next Officer team takes the policy, and hope that it will result in real changes for our valued international students in the coming years.
Celebrating our diversity
Another proud moment in a similar area was the successes of two intercultural events – the International Winter Festival and the World Unite Festival. These events were designed to really bring together our diverse student community – home and international students alike – to share food, culture and performances, as well as to facilitate some important discussions around belonging, as well as different countries’ approaches to pressing issues like sustainability. It’s been important to me that we not only focus on tackling issues associated with intercultural inclusion, but that we celebrate our diversity too – with such a vibrant community it would be remiss not to!