This month, we hosted a cultural day for students and academics to showcase their background through music, dance and language. Students and academics showed up in traditional wear and took turns explaining the story behind the clothes. They conversed in different languages, they danced, they sang, they shared food and, most importantly, they had fun! The event was an incredible way to promote cultural awareness among students and for them to come together in a home away from home.
The event is in its 3rd year and has been organised by module leader Dr Elizabeth Achinewhu-Nworgu. She has been a part of Northumbria University London for two and a half years. She expressed that her favourite part of her job is supporting students and making education count for young people through diverse ways of teaching modules.
Dr Elizabeth said that: ‘The cultural day for me is really important because of my past experiences at former universities. I’ve always introduced a Cultural Day in the sense that most of our universities deal with international students and here is the most important one because we have a lot of international students. Some of them come here, they miss home, and they have problems settling down. They don’t understand the culture and the system here. So for me, Cultural Day helps them understand what it all is.’
The Culture Day event is much more than a social opportunity for students to get to introduce where they came from and make new friends. The Culture Day also ties into modules students are taking to progress in their chosen program.
‘We have modules which include culture, for example, “critical organisation and culture”. Throughout the modules we look at culture, symbols and what it all means to everyone. Some of our students don’t know how to do something that we do around here. It’s a way for them to know that we’re all similar in terms of our identity. Sharing those ideas is one of the reasons I introduced this event to Northumbria University London.
They do assignments on the modules and when we share our identity, values, dance, music and language it helps them understand the real nature of culture. It’s also good for them because it’s part of the education enrichment activities that we do. The first time I introduced it, I thought no one would take it seriously and no one would realise what it meant. On the day, I was pleasantly surprised that everyone got really excited and started to volunteer, share their native dance and food.’
The Culture Day takes place every semester (December, April and August) and has been a day that students look forward to all year. It’s been a huge success every time and is just getting better! We look forward to see what the next one holds, stay tuned…