Happening On Campus

Manifesto Reviews- Part-Time Officers: International Officer Candidates

Emma Burnett

A group of Impact Magazine writers have looked over the candidate manifestos for this year’s Student Union Elections. Harry Chapman, Katie Sullivan, Emma Burnett, Oli Harris, and Hannah Walton-Hughes summarised and discussed each candidate’s main manifesto points, and gave their views on the manifesto overall. Voting closes on 15th March 2024 at 2pm. 

Amara Abdeen:

Main Manifesto Points:

  • Advocacy and Representation
  • Support and Well-being
  • Cultural Integration and Diversity
  • Peer Support and Mentorship
  • Policy advocacy and Institutional change
  • Engagement and Outreach

“Together, let us embrace diversity, celebrate unity, and shape a brighter future for our international student community”.

Amara’s primary goals are: “to ensure the well-being, support, and integration of international students within the university community”. They pledge to “be a strong advocate for international students’ interests, ensuring their voices are heard and their concerns addressed in university decision-making processes”. They want to advocate for the reform of policies and student services, so that they support the unique needs and challenges faced by international students.

They will endeavour to bridge cultural divides

With regards to cultural diversity, Amara will support initiatives that promote intercultural communication and exchange, as well as empathy, and respect, therefore “creating a vibrant and inclusive campus environment where all students feel valued and respected for their unique perspectives and contributions”. They will endeavour to bridge cultural divides, and foster meaningful connections amongst students from a diverse range of backgrounds, through inclusive events, workshops, and cultural celebrations.

Amara is dedicated to promoting a culture of well-being and inclusivity, where international students feel safe, supported, and empowered to succeed academically and personally. They are committed to improving support services tailored to the needs of international students, including orientation programs, language assistance, and mental health resources.

Amara wants to foster a sense of community and belonging amongst international students, by establishing peer mentorship programs that provide practical guidance, emotional support, and friendship to incoming and current international students, and organizing social events, networking opportunities, and cultural exchange programs that facilitate meaningful connections and friendships.

Increase outreach efforts in order to connect international students with resources

In terms of supporting international students, Amara will work to “address systemic barriers and inequities faced by international students, advocating for inclusive policies and resources that support their academic success, personal development, and overall well-being”. To do so, they will advocate for policies and practices that promote diversity, inclusion, and accessibility, and increase outreach efforts in order to connect international students with resources, opportunities and support networks.

Having personal experience as an international student, Amara’s manifesto is focused on improving the overall university experience of an international student. Amara provides a range of strong and convincing goals, which are well-developed and signposted. It would be great to see some stronger and more recent examples of their experiences, and how these would make them a great fit for the role of International Students Officer.

Francesca Graf:

Main Manifesto Points:

  • Fostering community
  • Creating safe spaces
  • Communication
  • Cultural integration

As an international student at University of Nottingham, Francesca found it difficult to find other international students in the same boat as her, and at first found it difficult to converse with students who had only ever lived in the UK. Therefore, she wants to make a space for all international students.

Gain as many different perspectives on how to create and promote a safe network

Francesca is very focused on creating a safe space for all International students. She wants to connect with other international students across the university, in trying to gain as many different perspectives on how to create and promote a safe network in which international students can meet each other, and help each other out. She feels as though international students are often treated as “different” or sometimes find it harder to “fit in”, which is something she is dedicated to changing.

To do change this, she has the idea of a platform, which will exist both online and offline. The platform Francesca imagines is “a very basic platform, with different options that can help you get out of your ‘comfort zone’ and meet the people that you think you would get along with, without you feeling like an outsider”.

The platform would include private messaging spaces as well as “forums” where students can anonymously chat, ask any questions, and arrange to meet up.

Allow international students to become more integrated into the university environment

She would also like to instigate small-scale events such as “international welcome”, coffee mornings, “things to do in Nottingham”, to allow the international students to become more integrated into the university environment more seamlessly.

Francesca takes a personal approach, utilising anecdotes of her own experiences as an international student to base her manifesto points upon. She has diverse and well-rounded cultural knowledge, having lived in eight different countries. It would be great to see a manifesto that offers a more all-encompassing and clear view of what Francesca stands for and wants to change – as opposed to the focus on one singular point.

Jia Kini

Main Manifesto Points:

  • Giving a platform to under-represented voices
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Providing tailored support services
  • Building an inclusive and diverse university community

“My ultimate goal is to provide international students with the necessary support, guidance, and resources to ensure that their experience at the University of Nottingham is successful and fulfilling”.

Jia is committed to supporting international students by “creating a welcoming and inclusive environment where they can thrive academically and personally”. She is dedicated to advocating for international students in the university community, by “representing their voices in administrative discussions and decision-making processes”. She takes pride in listening to the specific needs and concerns of international students, and wants to implement policies and initiatives that promote inclusivity, diversity, and equitable treatment across their community.

She pledges to assist with visa procedures

Jia believes that providing tailored support services to meet the specific needs of international students is “crucial”. She pledges to assist with visa procedures, to offer guidance on housing options, and to provide comprehensive support. She also wants to implement orientation programs, due to the benefits in aiding students with acclimatising to their new environments. She will “work diligently to ensure that these programs are informative, engaging, and inclusive”.

Jia states that collaboration and partnership are fundamental to fostering “an inclusive and diverse university community”. Therefore, she pledges to work alongside external organizations and stakeholders to improve support services and chances for collaboration and exchange amongst the international student community.

“Welcomed, supported, and empowered” [Jia]

Overall, Jia is “passionate about ensuring that every international student feels welcomed, supported, and empowered to succeed academically.”

Jia has modelled her manifesto around her personal experiences of being an international student. Her unique insights allow her to offer an innovative and varied approach to the role of International Student Officer.

Although Jia is often very clear and precise in what she wants to achieve in her role, she lacks specific evidence in how her experiences make her a great fit for it. It would be beneficial to give specific examples of her involvement in student organisations and leadership roles, and how the skills acquired here can be transferred and applied in the role of International Student Officer.

Karin Badran:

Main Manifesto Points:

  • Offering a fresh perspective
  • Promoting educational opportunities
  • Driving positive change

“With a passion for cross-cultural understanding and a dedication to promoting educational opportunities for all, I believe that serving as an International Officer is not just a job, but a calling that aligns with my values, experiences, and aspirations.”

Karin, a first-year law student, wants to bring a fresh perspective to the role. She describes herself as eager, enthusiastic and innovative, and believes this will “inject new energy into the position, driving positive change and creative solutions”.

Karin claims that she can empathise deeply with the challenges

As someone who has moved between countries throughout her life, Karin claims that she can empathise deeply with the challenges of being an international student, such as homesickness and feelings of disconnect. Thus, she wants to provide invaluable support and guidance, as others have done for her in the past.

Karin wants to do everything she can to make international students feel at home, whether that be through new societies, language programs, international food festivals and cultural events in which international students showcase their traditions, music, and dances. She also wants to “offer workshops and seminars on topics relevant to international students, such as cultural adjustment, academic success strategies, career development, and immigration regulations.”

“A heightened sense of empathy and understanding” [Karin]

Being a first-year International Student herself, Karin has just recently experienced the transitional university period. Therefore, she describes herself as having “a heightened sense of empathy and understanding for the challenges faced by international students” which means she can relate to, and therefore help alleviate, their struggles.

Karin’s manifesto clearly outlines and examines how her experience can be transferred and applied to the role of International Students Officer, for example her ability to speak five languages and the fact that she studies law. However, this level of detail is lacking in terms of what she wants to achieve in the role. Although she gives many examples of the new strategies and initiatives she would like to implement in this role, there is often a lack of further development and clear reasoning. This section of the manifesto would benefit from more detail about how and why her ideas will ensure that international students have the best experience at University.

Nicholas Terashvili-Rocha:

Main Manifesto Points:

  • Implementing inclusive events and activities
  • Connecting the international student community
  • Increasing engagement
  • Cultural Exchange

Roller skating trips, cinema trip, pubs or club nights

Nicholas brings attention to the sheer scale of cultural and ethnic diversity we have across the student population at University of Nottingham. He wants to honour this by expanding the reach of the international student community.

Initially, Nicholas discusses the idea of social events and activities to improve inclusion in the community: roller skating trips, cinema trip, pubs or club nights, which could introduce international students into the rich nightlife and cultural experiences available in Nottingham. He also wants to make these events a regular part of university life for international students, as opposed to having them only at the start of each semester.

He also expresses the lack of awareness of meetings within the international student community, which he wants to combat through increasing their online presence, endeavouring to promote the society, increase the outreach, sharing memorable moments and providing regular event reminders. Nicholas wants to attract more members, thereby fostering immediate and visible growth. He is “enthusiastic about building a larger community, creating opportunities for meaningful connections and lasting memories”.

A ‘Culture Day’

One of Nicholas’ main focuses is cultural exchange. He has the idea of organising a cultural food exchange, in which students from all backgrounds bring in food specific to their culture for others to try. He details how his experience of organising a ‘Culture Day’ as president of his Sixth Form has equipped him with the skills to organise such an event. He believes organising something like this “would elevate the society to an incredible level”.

Nicholas details how his experience as a Transitional Officer at a previous school has equipped him for the role: “I ensured that newcomers felt welcomed and integrated into the school community, fostering an environment of acceptance and support. This background has honed my ability to understand the challenges faced by international students and provide the necessary assistance to help them acclimate to a new environment.” He also outlines how his cultural background as a child of immigrant parents has allowed him to forge connections in the international student community.

Nicholas gives a solid overview of how his previous experiences as a Transitional Officer and as an organiser of a ‘Cultural Day’; this will benefit him in carrying out this role and his goals within it. However, his manifesto could be better organised, for example through sign-posting how his skills and experiences make him a suitable candidate for International Students Officer – for example, how will he act as a central voice for international students?

Granthana Mistry (No Manifesto Submitted)

Full officer manifestos can be read on the UoNSU website.

Emma Burnett

Featured image courtesy of Korng Sok via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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