4 ways to be a diversity champion!
2 December 2020
UCL students are a truly diverse community. In this article, Maryam, a UCL student, talks about 4 ways you can be a diversity champion - or in other words, a UCL student!
As UCL students, when it comes to us being one of the most diverse institutions in the world, we’re all cheering this fact on like loud, loving parents at our 5-year-old’s football match. Nonetheless, if you’re embarking on studying at UCL and are yet to fully embrace all of its colours, here are a couple of tips to help you on your journey towards becoming a diversity champion.
1. Get to know your neighbour
This first one sounds a little elementary, dear Watson, but ask yourself this: how well do you actually know your neighbours? What’s more, how involved are you in your community? Putting yourself out there and experiencing the diverse range of cultures and people that UCL is home to builds bridges where gaps may lie.
Even if you're not able to come onto campus, you can still do this wherever you're based, as it's a good attitude to have no matter where you are the world. Getting to know one another shapes our understanding of our world for the better. We become more tolerant, happier societies when everyone feels and is included.
So, the next time you’re watering your beyond-withered flower beds, take some time to strike up a conversation with the people next door. Or, if you don’t like nature (we’ll work on this another time), you could do this at your local shops, or even in your community centre (they are almost always looking for volunteers!)
2. Be open minded
At some point in your life, you’re going to experience a certain thing that may seem a little ‘alien’ to you. Whether that be a cultural or religious practice, the way someone dresses, or even just the fact that you might know someone who pours the milk in their cereal bowl before the actual cereal, there will come a day when you experience something for the very first time. And that is okay.
What matters most in these situations isn’t the difference itself, but rather how you deal with it. Being open-minded brings us closer together. It spreads love and acceptance, and reminds us of the beauty that lies within our differences. So, the next time you see something you’re not entirely familiar with, go forth and expose yourself to it. You’re almost guaranteed to learn something wonderful.
3. Be considerate of others
It’s no secret that the way we treat others directly affects the way they feel. Being kind to others, asking them thoughtful questions, and accepting unfamiliar practices prevents situations that can cause offence… something that can end up isolating individuals from society and much worse. But do not fear! You can avoid this by simply taking the time to educate yourself on different cultures and lifestyles.
A quick Internet search can do wonders with this. I personally recommend reading through blogs written by authors from ethnic minority backgrounds, but try to educate yourself and expand your horizons in whatever ways work best for you, from novels and Netflix to social media or SoundCloud...
Read about the Sunflower Lanyard scheme. Some disabilities are invisible and you may not recognise that someone has a disability or understand the challenges they may face in their daily life. The Sunflower lanyard discreetly indicates that someone has an invisible disability and may require additional support or assistance.
4. Bring your own story
Lastly, if there’s one thing that you need to know, it’s that UCL loves and welcomes you, regardless of who you are, who you love, or where you come from! Diversity makes UCL the vibrant, unique, and multicultural place that it is. Here, there is something for everyone and a home for all.
So welcome aboard, my friend, it's an absolute pleasure to get to know you and your story better!
Last revised: 8 September 2021
Maryam Clark, UCL student, PhD in Bioscience