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Link: https://www.eenet.org.uk/enabling-education-review/enabling-education-review-7/eer-7/ethnicity-and-nationality/

Fighting for a place in the world

I read the article at the start of this edition by a student in India, ‘Beyond the Horizon’. The very first paragraph contains a bold statement: “It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, which nationality you belong to, which sex you are. The world is a place for you to judge your own capabilities”. I disagreed. I think that’s how we would hope our society to be, but in reality you must fit certain categories before you can even showcase what you’re capable of.

I wish the statement in that article was true but it feels like it’s an illusion of inclusion or perhaps a shadow we are still chasing. I mean how do you catch a shadow? Every moment of my life, I have to think about who I am and how it affects my chances of becoming someone and where I can be. I am Black African. I am an asylum seeker. I am Catholic and I am a female. To be all that in a society is a lot of hard work and so it does matter who I am. The fact that I am black makes me a ‘minority’. People touch my hair like I am an alien creature. The world has already concluded where I belong and that’s what hurts the most. I know what I am capable of but do I have the space to express myself to the fullest? I’m afraid not. I have to work extra hard just to gain an acceptance letter from the world.

My nationality did matter when it came to applying for university. You just don’t merit things when you are an ethnic minority. All of a sudden you are reminded that where you are currently living, the country you’ve adopted as your own, the language and culture that has become second nature, all of that still doesn’t classify you as a citizen. All the hard work and dedication to get the grades for university has not been met with appreciation but with a prison to lock down your dreams. I know I sound bitter but have you ever stood in front of the wall of discrimination? The Great Wall of China has got nothing on it and it certainly won’t crumble like the Berlin wall. It sucks the life out of you, thus you are left feeling incapable.

I guess when you make it to the other side as triumphant you become bitter. You’ve survived but bitterness never fades. Bitter that you were not warned about the opportunity that was not for all. I have made it to the other side and learnt that although I am capable of becoming DR Congo’s first female president (DRC is where I am from) or a caring modern languages teacher in Bolton, UK (where I reside), I have to keep fighting for my place in the world. Even though it is hard to make a stand in the world without the need to tweak your identity, I have the power to judge my own capabilities. I know what I am made of and even if the platform might not always be presented, I believe there is a place in the world where I can be me without judgement or hindrance. Until then, I’ll keep fighting.

Diana De Cendres Khasa, age 24, graduate, University of Manchester, UK

 

EENET videos: “An Inclusive Day”

How are schools making education more inclusive in Burma (Myanmar), Burkina Faso and Ukraine? Watch the 10 short videos on EENET’s YouTube channel to find out.

If you are a teacher or trainer, you’ll find training manuals to use with the videos on EENET’s website.