Cecil Rhodes, a 19th century mining magnate and the man after whom Rhodesia was named, for all his deplorably racist views was right about only one thing: that we have gotten lucky by the virtue of being British – English to Rhodes (because you know… 19th century). His reasons for this view might now seem obtuse and primitive, but there are other reasons for which it stands true even today. Despite warnings that our society is becoming ever more intolerant and isolated, the reality is that we live in an incredibly cosmopolitan society.
Are you thousands of miles away from all your friends, family, crushes and home? If you are British the answer is probably… heck no! And let’s be honest, no matter how much we claim we are pleased to have left home and started an independent life, there are always those forlorn nights when the dark waves of melancholy take over and you wish, nay beg, that you could see an old face and, through their warm and cordial embrace, restore life into your being. If you are British this restoration is probably only a few hours and lowly quids away. But what of the international and European students? Are we not lucky to live in a country which has such excellent universities, which means home is not a galaxy far far away? Are we not the fortunate bearers of this lottery?
Hidden all around campus, in Arthur Vick maybe or perhaps Bluebell, lie hidden gems, trinkets in fact, of culture, history and tradition
Hidden all around campus, in Arthur Vick maybe or perhaps Bluebell, lie hidden gems, trinkets in fact, of culture, history and tradition – not just from Britain, but from all over the world – accessible to all those brave enough to make new friends. It may be a traditional Indian spice box with all its glorious colours and rich smells, or it may be a beautifully intricate floral Chinese ceramic pot, or delicately printed item of shweshwe clothing – these are things for which wars were fought and blood spilt. And yet they lie open to any of us who is brave enough to muster courage and say ‘hi!’ But why? Is it not simply because our universities entice people the world around? Are we not the beneficiaries of this lottery?
In an ever more globalising world, the international networks we build are more important than they have ever been
In the world of work, networking is God. Just look around you, one in three students here are international or European. Do you see what I mean? In an ever more globalising world, the international networks we build are more important than they have ever been. Which other country can boast such a large international student base? What’s that I hear… The USA? Well, Trump is their president, so they don’t really count (there you go Mr Trump, an alternative fact for you).
Though Cecil Rhodes may have been a man of questionable character, it seems to me at least that he was right in saying that the British (students, as far as this article is concerned) are the lucky inheritors of a lottery. Whether this lottery was fairly attained is a question for another time and one that I hope stimulates thought. For now though, it is worth taking a moment to celebrate the diversity of our campus and to ask what we can learn from one another.