Ustinov Global Citizenship Programme

Connie’s Eventful Year with the Ustinov Intercultural Forum

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The secret handshake of the UIF international dress party (Photo: GCP)

By Connie Kwong

To prompt exploration and celebration of our many social, cultural, national, and religious differences. —Primary objective of Ustinov Intercultural Forum (UIF)

Being part of UIF is an identity I have proudly adopted since I joined the GCP. Being on the UIF team offers us great opportunities and flexibility in planning and organising events to understand differences and to promote and appreciate others’ cultures. It also allows us to learn about and enhance our capability and creativity.

The whole process involves intercultural communication. Working with a team of people coming from different backgrounds is such an enjoyable experience, as everyone has brilliant and innovative ideas, bringing in what is unique from their own culture. We also organised some events as a cross-team collaboration, such as a seminar on movement and identity with the Ustinov Seminar, Graduate Common Room (GCR), and Durham University Indian Society; and ‘Concepts of Home’ with Race, Crime, and Justice.

I guess you can’t wait to hear more about our events. Our team has put in so much effort in organising a wide range of events. We invited academics for discussions on cultural issues such as migration and identity, engaged people in interactive activities such as the language café and pinning the place(s) where you call home on the world map, and provided career advice for international students in an international career session.

Celebrating world culture is one of our themes this year, for people to learn about and appreciate cultures. We had the Festival of Lights (Diwali) Celebration in which the audience learnt the festival’s background, enjoyed Indian dance and music, got henna drawings, and tried authentic Indian sweets. The International Dress Party was another highlight. Everyone was immersed in colours of national dresses, fantastic performances—Indonesian music and dancing, Chinese singing, and Bollywood dancing, and traditional desserts brought by the guests.

You would never forget these events if you were there. But no worries if you missed them, just check out the photos.

We believe that it is equally important for us to know more about the area we are living now, so we have another theme of ‘Exploring the North East’. We brought people to a local farm to learn local agriculture and taste some farm produce. A visit to Beamish Museum was a journey back to the everyday life in old North East England.

In addition to embracing differences, I have gained invaluable experiences and friendship, inside and outside of Ustinov. The GCP has created a friendly and inclusive environment to bring various cultures together as a world-in-miniature through all these wonderful events, when we are away from home for studies. Here at Ustinov we feel right at home!

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