St Chad’s College now counts 44 different nationalities (close but not quite the number of English counties), and thus a host of international students. A selection of about 25 of them spared an hour of their time halfway through a soggy Monday to congregate in the SCR for drinks and nibbles. Also present at this gathering were the Principal, Vice-Principal and Chaplain of St. Chad’s, the former two eager to highlight their international backgrounds.
There was a noticeably strong European and east-Asian contingent in attendance, with only a handful students from outside the Eurasian landmass. Noticeable was also the range of accents around the room, making each conversation sound considerably different to the other, and which for some people betrayed their origin quite quickly.
The first half of the hour was spent in casual discussion. Then, there was a round of introductions, where each person stated their name, country of origin and the thing that they found most different or surprising in Durham. Friendliness and the weather seemed to be recurring themes. This was followed by a brief discussion of international perspectives, especially the perception of British and World politics in each person’s home country. One person, for example, remarked that the British seemed to talk much less about Brexit than they did at home. The discussion also briefly covered the negative stereotype of British ignorance of global political affairs, taking the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong as a specific example, which has received very little media coverage in the UK. Drawing from that example, Dr. Masson emphasised the value of an international perspective brought to Durham by those that have come from abroad to study at St. Chad’s.
Another gathering is in the planning for the near future, perhaps featuring festive cakes as we approach the holidays. It might provide an opportunity for the international students to share more experiences, especially those who could not make it this time.