My Adventures with Cultural and National Societies (Weeks 1-4)

Namaste friends!

My name is Ishita and I am the South Asian rep for ISC and I have set a challenge for myself.  The challenge entails attending an event, cultural showcase or campaign of each of the fifty plus cultural and national societies at the university of Sheffield. I will be writing this blog about my experiences and about the beautiful national societies. So here is how I’ve done in the first 4 weeks of university.

Eid Milan by Pakistani Society

Fashion show of traditional costumes.
Fashion show of traditional costumes.

On the 5th of October I went to a ‘Milan’ (which translates to gathering in urdu) organized by Pakistani Society which included delicious traditional food and exciting

Starting a traditional Middle Eastern dance
Starting a traditional Middle Eastern dance

performances from both PakSoc and other societies. USIC (University of Sheffield Islamic Circle) gave an informative talk about origin and significance of Eid, SMSA (Sheffield Malaysian Students Association) played traditional music and Bangladesh society produced a video about Eid. The organizers did an excellent job of engaging the audience and many in attendance participated in the fashion show and traditional Arabic dancing (lead by ArabSoc). PakSoc’s Eid Milan was a fantastic event that was so successful in immersing attendees in the culture and traditions of Eid and it was a great way to start the year.

Hong Kong Society’s Campaigning

If you visited to the students union in the first weeks of October you are likely to have spotted Hong Kong Society’s stall in front of the union. Here, members of Hong Kong Society were raising awareness about the current political situation in Hong Kong and the ongoing protests. HKSoc also collected signatures supporting the peaceful resolution of the situation and even took their campaign to the city centre.

Diwali Celebrations by Indian Society

Attendees listen to prayers
Attendees listen to prayers

On the 23rd of October I attended ‘Agni 2.0’, organized by Indian Society to celebrate Diwali, also known as the ‘Festival of Lights’  where the lights or lamps signify victory

Sparklers were handed out during the firework show
Sparklers were handed out during the firework show

of good over the evil within every human being. This event started at the Hindu Samaj (Temple), where participants were shown how the prayers for Diwali are conducted.

Following this, we went to the Gurudwara, (the Sikh place of worship) where we first participated in prayers and also enjoyed ‘Langar’, traditional Indian food served voluntarily by members of the Gurudwara. Since fireworks are a traditional part of Diwali Indian Society also organized a stunning firework show. Indian Society did a fantastic job of providing Indian students with a sense of home and home and other international students with a brilliant new experience.

Impact of these events

I come from a country where Eid and Diwali are celebrated. However I realize now that I didn’t know very much about background of these events and I usually associate these occasions with the food my friends who celebrate share with me.  Thanks to the events recently attended I have learnt a great deal about their origin and significance of these festivals. I think it’s amazing that, by travelling thousands of miles away from home, I was able to learn more about my own country. I am truly thankful to the societies who have made this possible. I am also impressed by Hong Kong Society taking the initiative to raise awareness of the situation in their country and contribute to helping those in Hong Kong.

Challenge Progress

So far I have attended events, showcases or campaigns by;

Pakistani Society, Arab Society, Bangladeshi Society, SMSA, Hong Kong Society and Indian Society.

In addition to the events I mentioned, many Cultural and National Societies have organized great events. I am so proud as a regional representative and liaison to be able to support these brilliant societies.
To all those who are lucky enough to study at Sheffield, why not take part in national society’s event? There are so many languages, cultures and traditions to experience at Sheffield.

That’s all from me for now. Thank you for reading.

 

Khuda Hafiz
Ishita

 

Upcoming Events

Here are some upcoming events organized by National Societies.
Latin American Society organizes Conversation clubs every Tuesday at  Arts Tower -LT08 from 6 pm to 8 pm, and on Thursdays  a weekly social at interval bar from 6pm and everybody is welcome in both (both are free by the way).
LatAm society are also celebrating the Day of the Dead at the end of this month and  have a traditional altar at the Students union, will also be doing a dance presentation at the Activities Zone at 11 am on Friday.
Latin American Society:  https://www.facebook.com/LatAmSocSheffield
Latin American Society Conversation Club: https://www.facebook.com/events/1490210667924285
Latin American Society Day of the Dead Campaignhttps://www.facebook.com/events/376566612519661/?ref=22

Bangladeshi Society have a meet and greet dinner, so if you’re a Bangladeshi student looking to meet people from home or if you’re interested in learning more about a new culture do take a look at the society and their event.
Bangladeshi Society: https://www.facebook.com/groups/962334693780175/
BanglaSoc meet and greet event:  https://www.facebook.com/events/375558685927741/

Interested in spending an afternoon solving riddles, exploring the city centre and picking up a new language? Italian Society are organizing a treasure hunt this Sunday (2nd of November). It sounds like a lot of fun and I hear there will be prizes. You can find details on the event page.
Italian Society: https://www.facebook.com/pages/University-of-Sheffield-Italian-Society/519290468109442?ref=br_tf
Italian Society Treasure Hunt:  https://www.facebook.com/events/485619878247334/

A little bit about me! اهلاً وسهلاً

Hey! So my name is Alaa, and I am the middle east representative for the ISC!

I come from a small island in the middle east (Bahrain). You may or may have not heard about it. It’s very sunny (and humid!) most of the time, and during winters, it only drops to about 11 or 12 degrees (rarely less). I came to Sheffield to pursue my undergraduate degree in Informatics (or Information Technology, if you prefer). I’m on my third year and I absolutely love Sheffield for its diverse, multicultural community.

Okay, so enough about myself, here’s a bit about my role. I represent all students and societies from the Middle East region. I am here to support you in all ways possible. Be it representing your views, support your events, and help you with any concerns if need be. I am always reachable through Facebook. I may not respond directly, but I definitely do get back to you within a day or two maximum. I am here because I want you to have the best time possible at Sheffield. Interacting not only with people from your region, rather with people from other regions too. Especially through our events 😀

In addition to my role as a Middle East representative, I am also in charge of the women’s profile. I campaign and support issues regarding women from all regions. At the moment, I am in the process of organising a talk show aimed at empowering women’s achievements. It is still in the process, however, do keep your eyes out for any updates! If you’re interested in helping out/ talking about women’s issues and achievements please don’t hesitate to contact me on Facebook or through commenting on this post.

That’s it for now. Hope you’re all getting along well with your course and are enjoying your time to the maximum. Remember, you are in the happiest city in the UK. So smile, work hard, and enjoy!

Alaa

Autism and the Social Model

autism-spectrum-conditionsI have to thank the South East Asian rep for recommending me such a good article about Autism and how it is socially perceived. As the image at left presents, Autism can cover a large spectrum and can affect people with different IQ scores, thus it is not only about mental retard, as we often misjudge and misrepresent it. Autism can manifest as high functioning, extreme sensibility and higher abilities in some areas (a “genius” might suffer from Autism).

But that is not the main focus of my article now. The thing I want to stress more on is the Social Model, as presented in the article mentioned above. As defined there, “The social model of disability is a way of thinking about disability in which disability results not from an individual’s neurological, physical or mental characteristics but from barriers created by society”, which basically means that society caters only for the majority’s needs and tends to marginalize the smaller population that is different, that is unlike the rest. Therefore, in this context, disability comes as something disabled people have to fight against or try to live with, instead of being a signal that society should adapt according to the needs of all people who are part of it. A very empirical example given in the article is that of a person who is in a wheelchair and cannot enter a building because it has stairs and no ramp. According to the Society Model, the person cannot enter the building because he has a physical impairment and thus is “different from the majority”, and medics should find a cure for his disease. But they do not, firstly, assume that maybe the building in itself should provide equal access.

Of course, nowadays, most of our buildings have wheelchair access and cater for the disabled people’s needs. However, even though we changed the architecture of our buildings, how many of us have shaped the architecture of our minds in order to perceive autistic or disabled students as just being different but not inferior? Our Social Model is deeply rooted in our thinking and sometimes this Social Model affects disabled persons more than the disability in itself. Following this path of subliminal prejudice, I’ll talk to you in a further article about why there are so few international disabled students and why there are so few disabled students in university in general. And the answer will link again to our Social Model.

You can read the original article here: Disabled not disordered: Autism and the Social Model.

It’s all about LOVE! (and a lil about me)

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Yep, that’s me.

So, HELLO!

I hope I caught your attention with my oh-so-catchy title!

The name’s Santhana Gopalakrishnan, I’ll spare you my full name as it should not see the virtual sunlight. I am currently pursuing a degree in Economics and Politics. Originally from a beautiful country called Malaysia, where everything is perfect, and ice cream is less than 20p a cone. I am the International Students’ Committee’s Southeast Asia Representative for the year 2014-15.

I’ve always been more of a talker than a writer, therefore writing this is definitely hard. But hey, it’s good to practise what you’re not good at, no? :)

Well that’s enough about me, let me tell you about my exciting portfolio!

It is…

LGBT: Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender

3942-Love_Is_Love_LGBT_Rainbow_Flag

Why did I choose this portfolio?

Easy.

The Platinum Rule*. The easiest way to live is to appreciate. We’re humans, everyone deserves to be treated right. A universal and obvious idea.

In which world does pain caused by discrimination upon same-sex couples unacceptable? Happiness is easy to achieve. Love is beautiful, love knows no colour, gender, age etc.

“We are the makers of manners”- Shakespeare’s Henry V.thumb

We make the society, we make the rules, we make the culture. In fact, we are culture. We possess the many ways to change what people think and act, just by standing together, changing the norm. We need to face the society, and confront the world against inequality. We need to raise awareness, to express what is at risk, to contribute our social and intellectual capital to this cause.

Note that I used the word ‘WE’ just too many times.

Because that is what I need. You. I can’t do this alone. The LGBT committee, together with the International Students Committee, has an amazing plan.

We need YOU to help us with an idea that we have. A Pride-inspired Carnival-themed Music Festival!

We need all the help we can get, and we need your support.

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Let’s change history. It starts in Sheffield.

Contact details are in the About Us section.

#weareone

 

Love, Santhana.

Post inspired by Hudson Taylor.

First South Asian Rep Blog (an introduction to me and my multiple personalities)

Introductions

Greetings world of blogging. My name is Ishita and I am a third year Civil Engineering student at the University of Sheffield. I am originally from Sri Lanka, a beautiful sunny island inthe Indian Ocean and at present I am serving as the South Asian representative for the International Students Committee (ISC) for 2014/2015. This means that I am a link between all South Asian students and national societies and the ISC and I work to represent and support all students and societies from my region. In addition, thanks to ISC’s brilliant media officer who came up with the idea, I will also be writing regularly on this blog to keep everyone out there updated on representative work I do and my portfolio.

Me and my multiple personalities

This year, myself and the seven other regional representatives have each undertaken a portfolio to support and bring awareness to specific topics or groups of international students. For each portfolio, representatives will organize a campaign during the year. The campaigns run by the other representatives are ‘Women’, ‘Disabled and Dyslexic’, ‘LGBT’, ‘SIC and ELTC’, ‘Sports’, ‘Education’ and ‘Mature students’. If you’re interested in learning more about these campaigns, do read the blogs by the other representatives.

My portfolio is a bit different. Instead of organizing a campaign, in addition to serving as south Asian representative, I also serve as Cultural and National Societies liaison. This means I am part of Societies Committee and my role is to help support, promote, develop and represent the vibrant Cultural and National Societies at the University of Sheffield. I love this role because it means I get to interact with and regularly help remarkable, hardworking societies that add colour and culture to the University of Sheffield.

Setting Goals

Part of my role description as national societies’ liaison is to attend events organized by the national societies I represent. Unfortunately, given the number of societies I represent (over 50), the many events these amazing societies organize and my heavy workload as a third year civil engineering student this is no easy task. Thus I usually rely on Facebook events and communication with society presidents to keep up to date with the ongoing projects. In an attempt to fulfill my role and to give some attention to the hardworking cultural and national societies I have challenged myself to go to an event, performance or campaign of each society. I will be posting regularly about the events and campaigns as well as representative work I am involved in. Keep an eye out for my blog posts. In the meantime, visit the students union website and check out the societies I represent.  http://su.sheffield.ac.uk/groups#club-society#cultural-national
That’s all for my introduction.  If you have any questions, comment here or contact me on my Facebook profile or through email.

Best Wishes,
Ishita

Ishita Ranasinghe (South Asia Rep)
Ishita Ranasinghe (South Asian Representative)

South Asian Representative: https://www.facebook.com/iscsouthasian?fref=ts
Email: ipranasinghe1@sheffield.ac.uk

 

A wee bit of myself and a wee bit of OCD

Hello! My name is Ana-Gabriela Popa and I am the European Representative in the International Students’ Committee for the year 14.15. I’ll be regularly posting on this blog to keep you updated on my portfolio activity which is Disabled and Dyslexic. Why did I choose that particular portfolio? I could say because I believe in equal rights for everyone, I believe in equal access, I believe in inclusion and I believe in humanity – that particular part of us all that makes us overcome our prejudices and our differences. However, I chose it also because I am ignorant. I know nothing about what Disabled and Dyslexic mean, or at least, I know too little to make a difference. And the instance I realized that, I understood I must cease the ignorance and learn more as learning brings understanding and understanding brings community, love, tolerance, and acceptance. So, before actually starting with my campaign, I began learning in order to share with you what I learned.

First of all, I learned that Disabled students are professional and can cope with academic experience. It seemed relatively strange for me to attend the first Disabled and Dyslexic committee meeting, but contrary to my prejudices, I met people who were perfectly capable of running a meeting, of following an agenda, creative, sensible, and, above all, responsible for the position they took. It’s not that I ever doubted they could be like that. But, certainly, my prejudiced image of disability did not encapsulate this fine line of numerous and various illnesses they’re facing in their intimacy, but without bringing it in the interaction activity with others. They respect each other’s confidentiality; they don’t ask more about others illnesses just because they are aware they might not want to talk about it themselves. It’s hard to come out and speak out. They understand privacy more than Facebook and confidential contracts do (this was a joke, in case you did not get it). And this is incredible.ocd2

Secondly, coming back to the fine line of illnesses I had no idea about and that people struggle with, in their intimacy, this week is OCD (Obsocdessive Compulsive Disorder) AWARENESS WEEK. Many people mistake OCD for the desire of being neat, of having, for example, all your books alphabetically and colour-coded ordered, for wanting to wash your hands several times a day or for being annoyed by the fact your housemate changed the order of your size-ordered cutlery. YET, OCD is not wanting to be clean, neat and bragging about it. OCD means facing internal conflicts, obsession, FEAR! It means an eternal fight within each person that has this disability and cannot refrain him/herself from thinking: “What if…” This constant fear of the possibility to do something wrong, of the possibility to fail, of the possibility to let down, haunts the OCD people into a world of intrinsic terror. It is not fun to pretend to be an OCD, because OCD makes them suffer. No one is a “wee bit OCD”. There’s no such thing.

This is what I learned recently about Disabled students and about OCD. Hope you learned something as well from this and stay tunned for the next post!

To learn more about OCD, you can access this website: That’s OCD!

Or, at least, you could watch this short video on YouTube.