Student Led Initiatives
The Student Development Office supports many student-led activities throughout the year, including organising events and conferences, hosting guest speakers and establishing peer-support networks.
Genocide Conference 2018
As a part of their 2017-18 Edinburgh Award, two first-year undergraduates (Namju Kim and Robyn Ma) decided to host a conference with the over-arching theme of Genocide. In March, the two students hosted the inaugural Genocide Conference at the University of Edinburgh.
The conference invited three prominent speakers from diverse backgrounds. The first speaker was Mabrur Ahmed, co-founder and director of Restless Beings, who spoke about the current crisis in Myanmar and the atrocious human rights violations experienced by the Rohingya population. The second speaker, Eric Murangwa, a representative of Survivors’ Tribune and himself a survivor of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, talked about his personal experiences of the genocide and the failure of the international community to learn from the past. The last speaker was Robert McNeil, representing the charity Remembering Srebrenica. He spoke about his experience of being a part of the first International Forensics team deployed by the UN to Bosnia to gather evidence of war crimes, such as the Srebrenica genocide, following the 1996 Bosnian War.
The conference ended with a panel and questions from the attendees. The event was a success with over 90 attendees taking part and contributing to a fruitful discussion on the topic.
African Cultures' Kitchen 2018
Edinburgh Swahili Club’s largest annual event took place on the 27th April 2018, with generous funding from the Student Development Office in the form of the Student Led Initiatives Grant.
The evening comprised a three-course buffet meal, cooked by members of the local Tanzanian community and served on compostable plates donated by Vegware. Staff and students attended from across a wide range of university departments, with particular support from Social and Political Science faculty members. With a number of East African guests attending, many students studying Swahili at the undergraduate and postgraduate level found the opportunity to practice their Swahili in a relaxed and atmospheric environment. The venue was filled with music thanks to performances from David Luhanga, Edinburgh University DrumSoc and the Jit Jive Duo. Mara Menzies also captivated the audience with an engaging story after everyone had eaten their fill of traditional Swahili foods.
The African Cultures’ Kitchen served as a lively space within which community connections were strengthened; between staff and students, university and the local community, and amongst the diverse African diaspora in attendance. We’re incredibly grateful to the Student Development Office, without whom this event could not have taken place. We’re already looking forward to next year’s Kitchen!
The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas
The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas is designed as an informal platform for academics and researchers to engage with the public on an array of topics. The Cabaret (#CoDI17) is public engagement at its best and most extreme!
Renowned for its extravagant displays and outlandish performances, the Fringe provides the ideal setting to discuss hidden and controversial research with an entirely different group who may not usually come into contact with it.
Matjaz Vidmar (PhD candidate)
'Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas is a really valuable opportunity to connect your academic work with a wider Edinburgh audience. Though the idea of standing up in a room full of strangers and trying to discuss serious societal concerns related to your research with some levity might look dangerous in and of itself, the supportive environment of Beltane Public Engagement Network, and saintly patience and support of the invaluable compare, made my time at the Edinburgh Fringe (where the Cabaret is held every year), really enjoyable, as well as intellectually and personally transformative. Having the confidence to crack a joke or two at the expense of my work also helps when describing what I do to supervisors as well as funders and (future) employers. As such, I am really grateful to the Student Development Office for financially and morally supporting my annual exhibition of silliness, which made both my research, communication and public engagement skills seriously better!'
World Aids Day and gender-based violence events
In December 2917, Mastercard Foundation postgraduate students held a number of awareness campaigns highlighting Gender Based Violence.
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign which takes place each year and runs from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day. It is used as an organizing strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.
In support of this cause, we, as Mastercard Foundation 2017/18 Postgraduate scholars and as African Youth Advocates, held a drop-in event which called for a commitment towards recognizing gender-based violence against young people. The event called for individual commitments towards change in our own lives and communities through pledge cards. A total of 83 pledges were made by University of Edinburgh students and staff. The event was coupled with a social media campaign that highlighted the commitments made
On World Aids day the group held a talk raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of the HIV infection, and mourning those who have died of the disease. This year, as part of the 2017 World AIDS Day Commemoration, UNAIDS launched a campaign, My Health, My Right, focusing on the right to health and explores the challenges people around the world face in exercising their rights. In embracing this campaign, we organised an informal panel discussion that drew on “Personal Lessons and Experiences from Africa: The Perspective of Young People” and focused on the challenges met by young people in exercising their rights and where this fits in the HIV Sphere in an African Context.