Overseas students from Bangor University joined politicians, diplomats, charities, educational institutions and other officials to celebrate the contribution made by communities throughout Wales at a special showcase at the Palace of Westminster….reports Asian Lite News
Britain’s historic parliament was echoed to the sound of African voices, Indian tabla and Welsh harp music as the North Wales Association for Multicultural Integration brought its loud and hopeful message to the Houses of Parliament.
Overseas students from Bangor University joined politicians, diplomats, charities, educational institutions and other officials to celebrate the contribution made by communities throughout Wales at a special showcase at the Palace of Westminster.
The event, hosted by Clwyd West MP David Jones, gave NWAMI supporters the opportunity to discuss the issue of cultural engagement with elected representatives – while also offering participants the opportunity to see at first hand the workings of the UK Parliament.
Invited guests were joined by delegations from a number of foreign high commissions and embassies. They also heard from performers including harpist Gwenllian Llŷr, Cardiff-based drummer Anirban Mukhopadhyay, the Sanctuary Sisters choir from Swansea’s African Community Centre, pianist Ify Iwobi, and Snowdonia poet and writer Homan Yousofi.
“I was delighted to welcome NWAMI to the House of Commons for this vibrant event,” the Rt Hon Mr Jones said.
“Participants were met with food, performances from talented musicians, and discussions that showcased and celebrated the diversity of cultures.
“The event was a positive step in promoting integration and cultural engagement among the many ethnic and religious groups living in North Wales.”
Under the chairmanship of Lord Roger Roberts of Llandudno, a panel featuring Inter Faith Network trustee Julie Jones, Maltese academic Maria Gabriele Doublesin, Dwyfor Meirionydd MP Liz Saville-Roberts, North Wales regional AM and MEP Nathan Gill, and Father Deiniol from the Wales Orthodox Mission in Blaenau Ffestiniog considered issues including the accessibility of English and Welsh language courses, help for communities to integrate effectively, and our willingness to expose ourselves to other cultures.
Bangor University international ambassador Raji Madharan – a third-year psychology with neuropsychology student – said it had been “surreal and impressive” to find herself watching a debate from the gallery of the House of Commons as part of the trip. The 19-year-old chose to travel to Bangor to study from her home in India.
“I really appreciate that students are part of this kind of experience,” Raji said.
“The questions which were asked are very relatable to the experiences of people in Wales and the UK in general. This has opened doors for us to ask more questions.”
Syed Aslam grew up in Pakistan, though his family moved to Italy before he began his undergraduate studies in Newcastle. The 27-year-old PhD student is now working towards his doctorate in computer science at Bangor.
He believes that getting international students together with officials and political leaders had proven a great way to discuss important issues. “I have learnt a lot of new things and I have seen how things happen here,” Syed said.
NWAMI was established by former mayor of Colwyn Bay Dr Sibani Roy in 2011, and aims to promote a cohesive and integrated society through learning and cultural engagement. The organisation’s Colwyn Bay-based Centre for Cultural Engagement was launched at the Senedd in 2015.
Dr Roy said the shared mission of NWAMI and the CCE was to raise awareness of diverse cultures and faiths as tools for promoting community cohesion.
“In order to do so, NWAMI is offering language courses in collaboration with Grŵp Llandrillo Menai and intends to provide courses in the music, arts and crafts, faith, cuisine and customs of the diverse communities we live in,” she said.
NWAMI vice president Clive Wolfendale said the organisation’s work was critical in challenging intolerance, prejudice and hate – both on the streets and online.
“For some years, NWAMI and the CCE have been promoting the principles of mutual respect and happy collaboration across boundaries of race and culture,” he said.
“North Wales can be proud of fostering such an organisation and I am delighted that its message is now being heard at the seat of government.”