In the last week of March, International Relations and Development BA Honours students took part in a virtual field trip focused on refugee rights and humanitarian responsibility, which was generously funded by Quintin Hogg Trust.
Across five days, students were engaged in an immersive learning experience wherein they met NGO leaders and refugee youth from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka who are working on refugee rights and peace building. Students heard from Rohingya refugee youth like Mohammed Nowkhim, who shared his experience of struggling for the right to live safely. In his address to students, he said: “As a refugee, I see my life completely overtaken by shadows. Am I not a human? Why do I have to live under the shadow of insecurity?”
Other notable speakers included Manzoor Hasan and Jessica Olney from the Centre of Peace and Justice, Nirmani Liyanage from Search for Common Ground, Radhika Hettiarachchi, a Public Historian in Colombo, Meenakshi Ganguly from Human Rights Watch, Mike Aaronson Honorary Fellow University of Surrey and ex Director of Save the Children and Navine Murshid from Colgate University in New York.
Talking about the field trip, Dr Ipshita Basu, Senior Lecturer at School of Social Sciences and organiser and facilitator of the trip, said: “The students at the workshop will be graduating soon, and it is promising to see that they have acquired the skills and motivation to build a career where they can make an impact in global society today. Some of the graduating students like Nura Adem will be joining a UK based charity that campaigns for Rohingya refugees, while others like Cassidy Mattingly are planning to spend a year abroad to work.”
Recounting her learning experience from the workshop Katarzyna Ozga, final year International Relations and Development BA Honours student, said: “Hearing stories directly from displaced populations and learning about the enormity of issues that those communities face from people who have dedicated their life to fight for their rights was a life-changing learning experience for me.”
Student Owen Turk added: “The virtual field trip provided me with context on issues and organisations I had previously heard little about, such as the situation in Sri Lanka and the necessity in building peace making structures.”
Second year International Relations BA Honours student Kamil Stefanski, who also co-hosted the workshop, added: “This extremely valuable experience is a turning point in my perception of many aspects of humanitarian aid, which will undoubtedly pay off in the following years of my education.”
Find out more about Politics and International Relations courses at the University of Westminster.