The University of Leeds is a diverse place to study, about 20% of students are international from over 150 countries. Studying here is a wonderful opportunity for sharing our own culture with others and at the same time learning from them about their languages, traditions, and experiences. Last week we celebrated The World Unite Festival which allowed students and staff to get to learn about other cultures whilst having fun and making new friends. We had a flag parade, international movie screenings, cooking lessons, talent shows and lots more. We attended some of the events and here’s what we experienced..
British Afternoon Tea Party
At the beginning of The World Unite Festival, there was a British Tea Party held in the Leeds University Union (LUU) building. The British Tea Party was set along the lines of a traditional British afternoon tea, which is a very exciting experience, especially for international students. There was an extensive spread of food for the tea party. It included cookies (bourbon, oreo), cakes (carrot, lemon drizzle, chocolate, and fairy cake), jam tarts, scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream and swiss rolls. There were also a few kinds of tea for the participants to choose from. While enjoying the delicious tea and food, we had the chance to talk and get to know people from various schools of the University. Also, on the table there were sheets of papers that had recipes of different food served at a tea and also facts about traditional Tea Parties. The event was a great initiative for experiencing a key part of British culture, making new friends and unwind in between the stress of the semester.
5 R’s of Culture Change
The Global Community team organizes activities during the whole year, and this is a great opportunity for networking and meeting other students from various faculties. During the World Unite Festival, the Global Community team organized a workshop about the Five R’s of culture change. If you have lived in a place with many and diverse cultures or not, this workshop would be very helpful as it provides you with a bunch of coping mechanisms to deal with the shocks of culture change such as new routines, different reactions, new roles, relationships, and reflecting about yourself. Sharing our experiences of culture change with participants at the workshop was cathartic and a great platform for introspection. It was a great workshop where we all learned to adapt to a new culture and environment without losing our own identities.
For applying the five R’s of culture change and adapting to your new environment and people around you, it is important to first recognize that you are not alone and can always ask for any help you need. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed but is also important to enjoy each experience. The 5 R’s of Culture change and tips that can be helpful are,
- “Routines”: keeping old routines is important, but also have hobbies and establish new routines like developing new skills.
- “Roles”: Recognize that new roles require clear goals. Manage your expectations for developing strategies that could help you to keep your same roles in the new culture.
- “Relationships”: Be proactive and keep an open dialog within existing and new relationships.
- “Reactions”: Get to know others’ cultures and reactions, effective communication is of utmost importance.
- “Reflect”: Spend time to introspect and reflect on the changes you are experiencing, acknowledge that these changes are natural, and seek support if you need it.
All these tips are very helpful for feeling at home in Leeds and get the most from this diverse environment.
A Bite of the World Bistro
A Bite of the World Bistro was a dinner organised by the Intercultural Ambassadors in association with Rainbow Junktion. Rainbow Junktion is a café that uses supermarket leftovers to make food and prevent wastage. The café runs on a pay as your feel basis. The dinner was an initiative to raise some money for the café and to create awareness about the cause and the café. The dinner started at 7pm in All Hallows Church where Rainbow Junktion functions. The night started off with everyone sitting on random tables which gave everyone an opportunity to interact and meet new people.
The food was prepared by volunteers who made dishes from their country of origin, which included Afghanistan, China, Italy and Romania. During the dinner we had a quiz game about countries and enjoyed the music of a group of drummers. In all the dinner helped us learn more about other cultures through their food, the quiz, the music and the chance to interact with others in a friendly atmosphere.
“As an Intercultural Ambassador hosting this event, I am extremely happy that A Bite of the World Bistro event turned out successful and it was my first time ever being part of the organising team hosting an event with such a big turnout rate. It is a wonderful news that our guests enjoyed their time at Rainbow Junktion, the girls and I are thrilled to hear that.” – Carmen Yee
Night of Singapore
The Singaporean students prepared a lovely evening to share their culture. They prepared a poster and organized a quiz that helped us to learn more about their history and traditions. They also shared some drinks and snacks from their country, including a dessert called “Mochi” prepared with peanuts and a delicious rice biscuit, which they eat very often back home.
Move the World
For the Move the World event organised by the Intercultural Ambassadors, I attended the Zumba class which was led by Annica from the International Office. Zumba is a really fun and feel-good form of fitness dance. Annica lead the class and whilst it was a taster of what it was like to join a Zumba class, it left us wanting for more! There were a few in the group who haven’t done Zumba before so she was mindful of our personal abilities but she was mostly concerned for all of us to have fun. We tried a little bit of bhangra, salsa, merengue, cumbia, pop and soca. It was really good to have a little taste of dances from different countries. It was really engaging and tiring, for the most part, but it was worth it! (If only all fitness classes could give such satisfaction, I wouldn’t miss any class at all). I’ve absolutely enjoyed my time and would definitely do it again!
The Show of Unity
The World Unite festival closed with a concert with performances of talented students singing and showing their traditional dances. We enjoyed performances from India, South Korea and Myanmar. Also, we enjoyed the talent of a young poetess, a hypnotizing belly-dancer and musical duet.
This was a great week for celebrating our different cultures and learning more from different parts of the world and we all very much enjoyed it!