When I arrived at Ustinov College to meet my fellow Global Citizenship Programme (GCP) compatriots I must admit I was a little apprehensive. I am a mature student, and I ‘live out’ so I was a bit worried that everyone else would be wonderfully connected and I would be forever trying to catch up.
After five minutes with the GCP team leads, I realised that this was not the case at all. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, brimming with creative ideas regarding scholarly enquiry into key issues of global citizenship and wider academic life. There was hot, frothy coffee and home-baked cake, and in no time at all I was having my photo taken for The Ustinovian and being asked about plans for the Race, Crime, and Justice forum over the coming year.
This year, the forum was co-led by myself and fellow social scientist, Raven Bowen. Having the opportunity to work together was brilliant—coming together to share the issues we were passionate about and deciding what we wanted to bring to the forefront of college consciousness. Going through the rigmarole of event planning, getting to grips with how the booking system worked, and understanding how to negotiate social media formed a great friendship between us as well. We laughed a lot!
Raven is phenomenal at networking and as a result we were able to recruit some really interesting speakers from all corners of the globe to share their work. This year’s themes were home, criminalisation, and asylum. We learnt about disaster response in Italy, heard about humanitarian work in Nepal, and discussed the experiences of young native Australians as they negotiated dual concepts of home.
We discussed the experiences of asylum seekers in the North East, ran an interactive quiz and viewed independent films. We stuck a huge map on the wall so everyone could pin where home was for them, a great visual representation of Ustinov College’s motto: ‘strength through diversity’.
Because Race, Crime, and Justice is one of the smaller forums at Ustinov, it was vital that Raven and I could draw upon the help and support of other GCP teams. Everyone was happy to oblige, and the RCJ events have been those which have been collaborative. Working this way allows different dynamics of a core topic to be explored; it brings new flavours and fresh ideas.
Moving forward into the next academic year, we will definitely be keen to extend this way of working, linking with the other GCP teams as well as linking with other Ustinov groups and societies to share ideas and practice from a wide range of academic disciplines and social perspectives.
One of the wonderful things about being part of the GCP and living away from college is that it has kept my finger on the pulse of Ustinov life. I have made some great friends, people whose paths I may never have crossed had I not been able to engage in the GCP. Being part of the programme has done nothing but enrich my experience here at Durham, both academically and on a personal level. I’ve been really excited about the events we’ve delivered and I can’t wait to see what the GCP and the Race, Crime, and Justice forum will bring in the future.