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Buddies Newsletter – November 2014

7 Dec

Hello Buddies,

November Events

Firstly, as the end of the semester draws near and the library becomes ever more crowded, the Buddies Committee would just like to say a huge thank you for an excellent semester! November was no different; we held a cosy board games night in Teviot underground and a trip to the Christmas Market down in Princes Street Gardens. Although, in true Edinburgh style, it was freezing, the mulled wine was suitably warming!

December Events

Do remember, if you have any interesting stories or beautiful pictures, do send them in to hilaryalison@icloud.com, and we’ll see if we can publish them in the next Buddies newsletter. We will also be holding a Christmassy event before everyone starts heading home, so keep a look out for details on the Facebook group, and get your Christmas jumpers ready! It will also be a great chance to catch up with those of you who are International students only staying for one semester.

January Events

The January Meet & Greet, for new international arrivals, is on Saturday 10th January from 7.30pm. It will be in the debating hall in Teviot, but we’ll also have the Loft bar reserved just for us so that the meeting and greeting can continue for the whole night (yay). Even if you’re not a new arrival, come down and mingle!

See you all soon, and good luck with those pesky exams and essays!

Buddies Newsletter – October 2014

2 Nov

What a month it has been! After a massive welcome into October with the Frankenstein’s pub quiz, the Buddies events team pulled it off again with a trip to Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura. The museum is dedicated to all things visual and photographic, with all kinds of illusions involving lights, dark tunnels, and photo machines. With 6 floors of hands-on activities, it’s a treasure trove. One October Wednesday  afternoon, Buddies stuck their heads into various boxes, got lost in a mirror maze and were almost blown away on the roof. In a place like the Camera Obscura, picture taking is obligatory, and there were tons of excellent photographs on all kinds of social media (#edbuddies).

Buddies battling the wind at Edinburgh's Camera Obscura

Buddies battling the wind at Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura

Secondly, welcome to November – and week 8! Time is going so fast. With the announcement of exam dates and the ensuing revision stress, a quick coffee with your Buddies is always a sure-fire way to slow down and enjoy the rest of the semester.

November events are set to include a board games night on 12th November in Teviot – keep a look out on our Facebook and Instagram pages for information closer to the time.

Remember, remember…the 5th of November! If you’re feeling full of fireworks this Wednesday, 5th November is bonfire night, a historical evening dating back to when Guy Fawkes tried to blow up British parliament. Four hundred years on, we still commemorate this day by wrapping up warmly, eating bonfire toffee and letting off fireworks. Exchange 360, an Edinburgh University society for both international students and returners, are planning to climb up Carlton Hill to watch the fireworks. They are meeting just in front of Teviot on Wednesday at 6pm. Sparklers provided before everything kicks off! (For more info see their Facebook page).

Hope you all enjoyed a very Scottish Halloween. See you very soooooon.

Buddies Newsletter

4 Oct

Hi all!

My name is Hilary, and I’m the secretary/treasurer for this years Edinburgh Buddies! This means I will also be bringing all of the news, events and inside goss in these monthly newsletters. Detailing all the fun we’ve been having and what there is to come, we are also asking for contributions from Edinburgh and International Buddies. A different Buddy group will be asked each month for their pictures and posts. So get reading, get snapping  and get scribbling down your experiences so far. ALSO don’t miss out on our excellent Instagram account; follow @edinburghbuddies and hashtag #edbuddies to keep up to date!

September Events

Autumn is THE best time of the year and this September was no exception. It has been a super busy month, beginning with our hugely successful Meet and Greet, where almost 600 Buddies were due into Teviot Dining Room in search of their Buddy groups. And it worked! Complimentary wine in hand, I got to meet so many lovely people from Edinburgh and abroad, and it only added to the excitement buzzing around the Buddies programme for this year. Some Buddy groups even managed to find their way to a ceilidh in McEwan Hall afterwards!

Our next event was the Scavenger Hunt. With eight rhyming clues leading our Buddy groups from Greyfriars Bobby to Edinburgh Dungeons to the castle (or some kind of similar order) and tasks, such as squishing into phone boxes and proposing marriage, on the way, the pictures looked amazing (#edbuddies – you know it!) and the winning team looked very pleased with themselves and their prize!

photo buddies

Buddies ceilidh-ing away in McEwan Hall

October Events

With the first of a new month came more events! This Wednesday played host to the Buddies pub quiz at Frankenstein, the fabulously themed pub on George IV Bridge. Quiz rounds included topics such as Scottish, Music, General Knowledge and there was even a Buddies round (are there more girls or boys in Buddies?). The winners, pun-tastically named ‘Buddy Brilliant’ received some rather fetching prizes. Later on this month we are planning a Flat Safari – keep your eyes peeled for more details.

Obviously aside from our fantastic events, Buddies are welcomed (positively encouraged!) to meet up, mix with other Buddies groups and explore Edinburgh and further afield together. All details of upcoming Buddies Activity can also be found on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EdBuddies20142015/

EUSA Global Farewell

30 Sep

Four years ago, I started working at EUSA. My remit – supporting student-led internationalisation.  I was new to the UK, the University, and in all honesty – I had to practice saying internationalisation in front of a mirror before my interview for this job.  It’s difficult to say and –as I’ve learned- even more difficult to define. But I’ve tried my best over the past few years and learned a million lessons along the way.

And now I’m moving on.  In a couple weeks, I’ll be working with the Institute for Academic Development on projects around student engagement, curriculum, and innovation.  I’m really excited for the change and the opportunity, but sad to be leaving EUSA.  There have been countless times here when I’ve stepped back and thought ‘man, I love my job’.  I’m so grateful for the bag of lessons and experiences that EUSA and the people I have worked with have given me. Thinking back – there are a few that stand out.

TEDx

TEDx changed things for me. I was lucky to be part of the group which started TEDx University of Edinburgh back in 2012. When we started, I had no real experience in putting on a production and from scratch. If it wasn’t for the patience of people like Celia (who I think is a bit like a magician), Maggie, Andrew, Sarah, Roger and the rest of the team – it wouldn’t have happened.

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I learned so much from the students involved and came to appreciate that the process is much more meaningful than the end product – it’s not always about the big show.  The night before I remember thinking that if it all goes wrong, it has been one of the most amazing things to be involved with. And it didn’t go all wrong – it was perfect.

And now, we have a legacy and are onto our second student committee. Thanks to the imagination, dedication, and just pure brilliant organisation – Maggie, Theo, Andie, and Alina have owned TEDx and delivered it in a way I never could.  These teams have shown me the potential that lives within our community – we have filmmakers, event managers, inventors, graphic designers, animators, stage managers, speakers, light specialists, community developers, comperes, kick butt volunteer coordinators (I could go on…really). I’m excited not only to continue to support these initiatives, but to also be able to work alongside these talented people.

EUSA Global Assistants

When I started working at EUSA – there was no EUSA Global and no Global Assistants to help run all the great projects we have created.  Two years ago, Sophie and Rob were recruited and the EUSA Global Team was born.  It sounds a bit like a superhero gang and looking back – we kind of were. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing students on EUSA Global – Melissa, Mari, and now Andre and Blythe.  I’ve learned so much from these teams and I think they really demonstrate an approach the University should be doing more of.  Have faith in students and more times than not, they will deliver in a big way.

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Study America

For the past two years, I have had the amazing opportunity to lead a group of students to North America. A group of us identified a need to create more international experience opportunities for students who entered university through the Widening Participation programme. For the pilot, I went with 10 students to Charlottesville to visit the University of Virginia.  We spent two weeks going to classes, learning more about the area and the culture of Virginia, visiting DC, doing American things, and hanging out with local students.  I think the trip had a great deal of impact on the students, but I wasn’t expecting to be so transformed by the experience.  It was a special opportunity to see how young people can flourish and be bold in different cultural contexts.

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EUSA staff

There hasn’t been one day when I haven’t wanted to come into work. I’m constantly inspired by the passion, care, and creativity of the EUSA staff.  This is an incredibly dynamic group of people who support one another, see the possibility in every challenge, and know how to play a game of darts (OK, well not really).  It’s been an absolute pleasure working with you. And Phil, sorry for making fun of the way you say book. But you do say it funny.

This is Phil.

Gather

Last year, we had an idea.  We wanted to change the way the University celebrates culture. I had the pleasure to work with Lorna and Kirsty from the International Office on this and I think it takes some pretty cool people to work hard on an idea when you don’t know where it will take you.  After countless conversations and a workshop – we realised that the University talks about community, culture, and global citizenship in similar ways.

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From these findings, we created the Gather Festival and launched it for the first time in March 2014. The amazing Maria (a very talented postgraduate design student) created a brand and a series of beautiful illustrations. In the end, we had 52 events run by staff, students, and people in the city and we reached nearly 2,500 people.  Global Assistant Mari did amazing work mobilising events.  I’m so proud of what we achieved and thanks to our first year, our team and support from the University is growing. I’m so sad to be leaving the Gather team, but I’m excited to see it grow. It taught me a lot about the power of possibility and creating a team of talented people who really care about what they do.

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So thank you EUSA.

Thank you for giving me space to find my feet, make mistakes, order too much wine for events on countless occasions, let me be imaginative and a bit rogue, and teach me how to work with different communities.  Thank you for your patience when I show yet another Baby Berta video (seriously though, look at that face), buy giant maps and cork boards, or make you play rounders in Bristo Square…again.

Baby Berta

Baby Berta

Thank you to the University for supporting my projects, embracing collaboration and new ideas, and acknowledging the good work of the students I have worked closely with. Thank you for the opportunity.

But most all, thanks to the students I have had the pleasure to work with. Thanks for coming to events where you had no idea what you were signing up for, volunteering to help each other, participating in yet another pilot project, asking questions, and coming up with some pretty fantastic ideas.  I’m in constant awe of your enthusiasm and dedication to do good. You have been a real influential force over how I operate over the past four years.  I look forward to working with you in a new way.

My job is up for grabs and if you are keen on working with amazing students, staff, and picking up some great projects – you should apply. Otherwise, you can find me at the Institute for Academic Development and no doubt, I’ll see you around.

It’s been an absolute pleasure, Johanna

 

Edinburgh: A Never Ending Festival – Lively Gardens

24 Aug

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It’s that time of year again when we say goodbye to the patchwork of artists, actors, comedians, performers, and patrons that descends upon Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival every August. But just because the official festival season has ended does not mean the fun has to end…

My name is André, and I’ll be joining Blythe as Global Assistant this year. Originally born in Germany, I am Portuguese, Irish, and Canadian, and am in the 5th and final year of my MEng in Mechanical Engineering. I’ve definitely got the travel bug and I took the chance to go on exchange to Carleton University in Canada, having an absolute blast while out there. I’m a keen golfer, cook, and photographer (although an amateur at all of these).

Blythe and I will be showing you how Edinburgh is a year round festival of culture, on and off campus. Whether you’re into music, theatre, photography, food, sports, or even air shows, we’ll be keeping you up to date with all the exciting stuff going on in Scotland’s vibrant capital year round.

The Royal Botanic Gardens are just a pleasant 20 min walk from Princes Street, and apart from housing a diverse collection of flora from around the world, they also play host to a wide range of special events, exhibitions, and workshops for all! Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s all about watching the grass grow, far from it they host photography exhibitions, cooking workshops, arts festivals, and even tours, as well as gardening classes for those who’ve always wanted to grow their own dinner.

There are events held year round, and the best part is many of them are free. You can browse through the full schedule here: Royal Botanic Garden Events.

We gathered at KB!

8 Aug

Hello! My name’s Blythe and I’m the new Global Assistant at EUSA Global – I’ve been away from Edinburgh this past year on my year abroad and it’s great to be back, buzzed and busy with all sorts of exciting projects and events for the upcoming year. I study German and Danish, so I can’t wait to get my hands on the Tandem events and see people sharing and learning languages. I’m also bursting with excitement at being a part of the Gather festival this year, showcasing the amazing work going on in Edinburgh by university staff and students as well as the wider community.

This morning, the Gather team made their way to Kings Buildings to chat to some keen beans about running events during next year’s festival. We shared coffee, what happened last year and innovative ideas that the Gathered folk had to offer – it sounds like a really varied and dynamic bunch of events and I can’t wait to see how they develop as we support them in their event planning.

There’s loads of ways for you to be involved too! Click here for more info.

Ciao for now!

Third Space is born!

12 Feb

For the past few months, I have been working with people from University to develop a project for students preparing for an international adventure.

It’s been such a pleasure to talk with students about their time overseas and hear their ideas on how to better support and prepare for their cultural encounters.  I’ve enjoyed meeting staff who specialise in counselling, ethnography, storytelling, and intercultural communication to see how we could design something really meaningful.

It has been like putting together a puzzle where you know all the pieces are meant to fit, it’s just a matter of getting them into a room together.

From all this hard work has come Third Space, a new series of activities which wrap around students’ international experiences giving them the tools to explore, reflect, engage, and share culture during the different stages of their time away. Simply put, third space refers to when one culture meets another culture – something new is created. With so many students moving between countries and cultures, I feel the university environment can often be a third space and I see this project as something that can help students make the most of that.

You can read more about Third Space here. There will be a pre-departure retreat, a workbook full of cultural explorations, and returnees conference.  Students will even be eligible for the Edinburgh Award.

So, I’m asking you for two things:

1. If you are a student preparing for your third-year abroad, apply to be part of this special project. I promise that it will not only change your life, but can also be included on your Higher Education Achievement Record through the Edinburgh Award. You will enhance your cultural toolbox and meet some lovely people.

2. We need your strategies, activities, things to do while away, among many other things in a new cultural context.  We are filling the workbook (both physical and online) with these activities to encourage students to fully, openly and thoughtfully engage in the ongoing life of the place they are visiting. While it is inspired by ethnographic research methods, it is not meant to be a “how to do ethnography” book.  It is a collection of ethnographically inflected tips, notions and things to do.

For example, one could suggest that they find out what the most popular street food is? Then they could ask someone who cooks it for a living how to show them how it is done? Then they could have a go at trying to cook it themselves?

Alongside a brilliant illustrator, we will produce a workbook which is playful, engaging, and hopefully – useful. After a year, this will be their portfolio of cultural adventures and something they can treasure for a long time. You can email ideas to me at johanna.holtan@eusa.ed.ac.uk.

It’s an exciting project to be a part of and I feel everyone behind it really cares about the ethos of Third Space. Watch this space!

What Global Citizens are Made of

31 Oct

As part of both my secondment and my work with EUSA Global,  a team of us developed a strand of the Edinburgh Award to recognise and support activities around global citizenship on campus.

The Edinburgh Award works across the University to reward students for taking part in activities alongside their studies like volunteering, part-time work, and getting involved in the University community. It also allows them the opportunity to reflect on the skills they are developing through these particular activities.  There are currently 30 different Edinburgh Awards running across campus and this particular version of the award recognises students who play an active role in empowering others to feel a part of and understand their place in a community of global citizens. You can read more about it here.

Earlier this week, we ran our first session and I was blown away by the activity and passion of the participants.  From student societies and peer support for international students to sustainable development initiatives – these students are busy people making a real impact in their communities, both local and global.

One of the main objectives of the session was to identify the skills of an excellent global citizen.  In classic EUSA Global style, we used post it notes and gold stars to generate ideas. Throughout the course of the award (now till March) they will be assessing their development in terms of these skills, identifying three to reflect upon in more depth.

I wanted to share this fantastic list as I think it’s relevant not only to students, but to people I work with and those across the University.  How do your skills match up to those the group identified? Anything we are missing?

  1. I think about the future and am goal-oriented.
  2. I empathise with and am tolerant of others.
  3. I’m creative and value my imagination.
  4. I’m curious and want to learn new things.
  5. I challenge assumptions held by myself and others.
  6. I am open-minded.
  7. I take advantage of opportunities to collaborate.
  8. I am ambitious and proactive.
  9. I have a positive outlook and see possibility in every situation.
  10. I am warm and approachable.
  11. I respond well in new (and sometimes unexpected) situations.
  12. I recognise when changes in one area might impact on what’s happening in another
  13. I’m flexible in my approach to work and life generally.
  14. I’m self-aware – I recognise how my actions and behaviour impact others both locally and globally.
  15. I can adapt my leadership style to suit different situations.
  16. I am resourceful.
  17. I am adventurous and up for a challenge.
  18. I am patient.
  19. I respect people’s different backgrounds, including those from other cultures.
  20. I have an adaptable communication style – I change it for different audiences and settings.
  21. I am good at communicating my ideas in different and engaging ways.
  22. I am a good listener.
  23. I am organised and efficient with time and deadlines.
  24. I help to bring about change.
  25. I’m aware of my own culture.

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It’s about our ‘Journeys and Stories’ – Reflecting on Black History Month planning

8 Oct

Our planning group- Johanna, Mari, Hazel, Akua, Brekhna, Nadia, Niamh and I- over these months have excitedly and thoughtfully discussed plans and a vision for Black History Month festival at Teviot.

When our theme ‘Journeys and Stories’ materialized, we knew it was the perfect fit for the festival program.  With this theme, we wanted to communicate that this celebration highlights the current and historical contributions of a rich set of cultures.  At the same time, we wanted to show how Black History Month transcends a designated group by recognizing the interconnected human experience.   Furthermore, we envision a festival with fun, interesting variety and honest, respectful conversation.

In reflection, I would say as a planning group we have embodied these aims.  We have contributed our own unique and thoughtful opinions and honestly discussed issues on and off campus.  Also, whether we have been aware or not, we have incorporated our stories as individuals personally connected to Scotland, Jamaica, Pakistan, USA, Norway, Ghana, Ireland and England.

My story is one of understanding people through their personalities, intentions and culture, rather than defining them by color.  It is also about recognizing adversities and promoting rights that should be afforded to all people.  Overall, the essence of my journey is that what is most important is how I personally choose to define myself.   Therefore for me, Black History Month is about the important humanitarian reasons and indelible history behind its formation, and these empowering goals were aimed to be imparted on all future generations.

So lastly, I end this blog entry by saying that I hope this year’s Black History Month festival brings every and anyone who is interested, passionate, empathetic and even curious and skeptical, because the festival is about respectfully learning about all of our ‘Journeys and Stories’ – as students, community members, and any other important ways we personally choose to define ourselves.

**I would like to give a special thanks to individuals and Uni. societies who will be participating in the festival and/or contributing to Black History Month on and off campus during the month of October!

Tell your international story

7 Oct

Since the year has begun, I’ve met so many incredible students that are bursting with stories.  A student who escaped a war torn country to come to Edinburgh, a lovely woman who -in her final year- has tapped into her bravery and is getting involved in everything, and many students who have returned after an overseas adventure.

At the University’s Go Abroad event a couple weeks ago, students reflected to a room of nearly 100 people on their experiences in Virginia, Texas, India, and Africa.  I was moved by not only their courage and care for the cultures they visited – but also by their storytelling.

I think this is an important part of any process – the ability to reflect on, see the value, and share stories with others. Storytelling is a real skill – how do we learn how to do this?

As part of my secondment with the Institute for Academic, I’m hoping to create spaces to do this.

To name a few!

International Storytelling Workshop – 9 November, 10 to 1pm at the Pleasance

EUSA Global is hosting a storyteller to work with undergraduate students who have returned from being overseas. This workshop aims to help students create a narrative around their experience. As we are limited to 20 spaces, we ask that students apply online.  To apply, please go here. If you have any questions, please email johanna.holtan@eusa.ed.ac.uk for more information.

Online storytellers wanted!! 

I recently stumbled upon Maptia, an amazing storytelling community which just launched online. I sent a very excited email to their founders begging and pleading for collaboration. They understood what we are trying to do at the University and wanted to help.  They are opening up 20 places for University of Edinburgh students to be their founding storytellers. We are looking for students who are currently overseas and those who have returned from an international adventure. If this sounds like it’s for you, register your interest here. You can read more about Maptia here.  We can’t wait to work with them a bit more.

Third Space Conversations – 1 to 2pm

We all have stories to share so I wanted to create an informal space to do so. Each Monday lunch time (bring your lunch), students are invited to come together to share their cultural adventures in Edinburgh and beyond. Email me at johanna.holtan@eusa.ed.ac.uk for more information.

We can’t wait to hear your story.