Although I don’t usually take it upon myself to go to additional lectures which are unrelated to my degree, last week I decided to go to a talk called ‘To be at home: identity and belonging in a changing world’. It was a lecture organised by The Unit for Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement; the School of Media, Communication and Sociology; the Leicester Cathedral; and various charities in line with Poverty Week.
It focused on the idea of belonging somewhere and the importance of feeling at home. An academic from the sociology department here at the Uni of Leicester spoke about her research on the hardships that refugees and asylum seekers face when reaching this country and the gruelling citizenship test they must take in order to ‘belong’ here which brings up the difficult question of whether citizenship is a right or if it has to be earned. It’s something so many of us take for granted, but for thousands of refugees and asylum seekers they may never feel truly at home in the country that they now live in.
It is refreshing to hear the positive steps that the city of Leicester and the university itself has taken in order to be inclusive to all. Leicester is a City of Sanctuary which means it is committed to creating a welcoming culture for asylum seekers and refugees. It has things such as drop-in centres, activity sessions and free English classes, all aimed at helping people integrate into the community. The University of Leicester is a University of Sanctuary, currently giving 19 refugees and asylum seekers access to full-time studies for free, offering free English language courses, and looking to increase the number of scholarships. I am proud to go to such an inclusive university which recognises the needs of everyone and is making an active effort to help refugees and asylum seekers to feel more at home.
“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself” - Maya Angelou