DMU undergraduates and US peers explore how education can empower students of colour

The way different students come together and get on so well is what Prabhpreet Kaur will be taking away from a visit to the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership.

The English Literature student visited the school, part of City College of New York, along with more than 40 of her peers from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

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DMU students at City College of New York

With the aim of finding out how higher education in both the UK and US works with students of colour, the group had a chance to ask questions and learn from their Harlem counterparts.

Prabhpreet said: "We've been thinking about the differences that we have in terms of ethnic minority groups in Harlem in New York and in Leicester and DMU.

"It was really nice to see that we have so many differences but at the same time so many similarities within our groups.

"The learnings I'll take back are how everyone's very different in terms of where they live and where they stay in their different areas, but when they come together in this university, everyone gets together, they know each other and they get on really well. I think that's really cool."

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DMU students share education experiences with their US peers

The group is in New York to explore black and ethnic minority history, identity and community and then feed back to the Freedom to Achieve project, DMU's commitment to closing the attainment gap.

Kaushika Patel, Dean for the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences and project director of Freedom to Achieve, said: "We're looking at how students' histories and identities can be recognised in what they learn.

"We wanted to see what the differences and similarities were between the two countries to see how we can work together and learn together."

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After an introduction to what was the first public institution of higher education in New York, the students split into groups to discuss their experiences of the education system.

Topics included whether they have had an opportunity to learn about their histories and how that has empowered them and, if they haven't, what could be the right way forward in making sure education empowers students of colour to be able to achieve their goals.

The learning was a two-way process. Sangwe Bum, a Psychology major of Tibetan heritage who moved to the USA in 2009, found the discussions 'informative'. He said: "Most of us don't know much about our history because we attended school in foreign countries. I think it's important to know your cultural background so you have a better understanding about yourself and your people."

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DMU students present thank-you gifts to their US hosts

The visit - the last organised activity of the #DMUglobal trip - was made possible by DMU PhD Psychology student Sebastián Córdoba, who is also an adjunct lecturer at City College of New York.

He said: "When I heard from one of my students at DMU about this trip and their plan to go to a university in Harlem, I thought it was serendipitous because that's where I teach.

"The students have talking about their identities… and they seem to be having a really a good time."

Posted on Wednesday 5th June 2019

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