Nina, 21, French + Spanish Bsc 🏴🇳🇬
When I was deciding on what university to go to, my sister and I would look through the prospectus booklets and see how hard the university would try to present its self as diverse and accepting. We would look at the pages and see groups of people sat on a bench smiling awkwardly, all of them there because they ticked an individual “diversity box”. A Chinese student, a black woman, a Muslim man, anyone with a visible disability and a white guy can be seen grouped together in many of the prospectuses. However once I visited the universities these diverse groups were nowhere to be found. People go back to their normal groups and don’t tend to integrate and mingle as much as advertised or as much as they think.
For me Aston was different. As a mixed race (Scottish-Nigerian) person who went to predominantly white schools, I can’t express the little joy of walking onto a campus and not being the only BAME student around. In fact being at Aston has meant that for once in my life I have been part of the majority. I know that some people won’t fully understand just what an impact that can have but others will and believe me when I say that it matters. Aston has such a massive community of BAME students who work together in assignments, society’s and clubs meaning that I have always felt included and integrated.
That’s not to say we can’t improve. Clubs like Aston LGBT 🏳️🌈 lack a significant amount of BAME representation and I hope that we can continue to share ideas and welcome people with background we may not be familiar with.
Nancy, 22, Spanish (single honors) Bsc 🇬🇹🏴
I am a current 3rd year student at Aston who is on placement in sunny Alicante (lucky I know!).
First of all: I am adopted from Guatemala to Scotland, I am also Jewish, and I am also a member of the LGBT+ Society as a bisexual woman. Now you´re most likely thinking, “wow, a minority within a minority on top of another minority, cool no?” Well, it hasn’t always been, so to say “cool”. It’s actually been a very daunting revelation to explain whenever someone has asked me.
As someone of another ethnicity, I have always felt out of place in my own life. Being of colour and surrounded by family members and friends, who are all white, life has felt always a bit miss matched. On the topic of religion, saying that I am Jewish has also been a struggle. Mainly due to the amount of hatred that is currently present in our world, people assume my religious views automatically when I say I am Jewish 🕎. And lastly, on the topic of my sexuality, it was always a struggle to come to terms with. Mainly because of the religion involvement and how my family would have reacted, but roll on many years since I came out to my mum and dad (5 years ago, to be exact), I don’t think I could ask for a more supportive family and friendship network.
But back to what this post about, my involvement with BAME. Like I said before, as a woman of colour, I have always felt out of place and never felt truly accepted by the places that I have lived in. One being Glasgow, where I grew up and Birmingham as my place of study. Not because of who I am or what I do, but because of the concoction that I am. I am surrounded by white individuals, and of course my best friends who are mainly white, I’ve always felt intimidated and nervous about ever including myself in activities. As I am from Guatemala in Central America 🌎, I have only ever visited other countries and only then I have felt a feeling of completeness. In no way am I disregarding the blessed life that I am so lucky to have been given, but the yearn to be surrounded by Latinos is forever present.
My time at Aston so far has been great, fantastic actually. As a BAME member, I have never not felt included within activities at Aston University, or it has never crossed my mind that my colour, religion or sexual orientation would put me at a disadvantage to others, but mentally I have never felt more myself.