By Jacqueline Grima
Staff and students gathered at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) this week for the International Culture and Language Opportunities Event. The event, organised by MMU’s International Projects Assistant, John Singh-Green, welcomed new national and international students to the university with a showcase of the vast array of cultural and language-related opportunities on offer.
John Singh-Green told Humanity Hallows:
“This event enables students to engage with and sign up for activities that they otherwise might not know about such as working in the community, studying or working abroad or perhaps doing something as simple as learning a new language.
“All of these activities help students gain skills and improve their chances of employment. They also emphasise to students that their experience of university is more than what they do in the classroom.”
The Manchester School of Samba opened the event with a lively set of dancing and drums. Students and students keen to learn the moves joined the performers. The audience were also treated to a traditional lion dance performed by the Chinese Art Zone and belly dancing by Michelle Pender. Next, the Rio Carnival Show Girls proved to be a big hit and students joined in as a conga line passed through the crowds.
Visitors to the event enjoyed a series of cooking demonstrations by Haleh Moravej and the volunteers from MMU’s MetMUnch project. Haleh showed how simple and nutritious international dishes like vegetarian paella could be created very quickly from scratch. Matthew Lloyd of MetMUnch showed how students could learn to cook a range of dishes from across the globe by using the project’s recipe cards and smartphone app. Matthew said:
“All of our recipes are cheap, sustainable and student-friendly. All students have to do is hold their smartphone over the recipe card and, using the app, they can then watch a demonstration of the dish being made.”
Stalls at the event included MMU’s Careers and Employability Service, the International Society and Uniwide’s ‘Opt for Languages’, where students could gain information about learning a new language as an extra-curricular activity. Students who are already studying a language, or whose first language is not English, could also find out how to become Language Ambassadors at the Routes into Languages stall. This paid role enables students to work in schools and colleges across the region to support the teaching of languages and enables them to gain skills and experience which will enhance their CV.
The British Council were also on hand to share their ‘Study Work Create’ project, which provides opportunities for students to study, work or volunteer overseas. The International Service, a York-based charity that enables 18-25 year olds to make a difference in the world’s poorest communities. Faith Allen, representing the service, said:
“The International Service has been running since 1953, sending students to such places as West Africa, South America and the Middle East to work on projects such as our Right to Education campaign. We offer 12 week placements that are fully funded.”
Representatives from the Erasmus+ project revealed that the opportunity to study or work abroad was not just limited to Language students. Exchange programmes are open to students on a vast array of courses across the university and offer placements ranging from three to 12 months.
Jacqueline Grima is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing. She is also on the editorial team of the short story magazine The Literary Commune that has recently published her short story ‘Lucky’. Another of her stories is forthcoming on the ‘Literally Stories’ website. Follow her on Twitter @GrimaJgrima