Saving lives with language

Foreign aid is often associated with goods such as food parcels, medicine, and infrastructure. However, one of the most crucial services provided to areas suffering from natural disasters and pandemics is translation. Translation also plays a crucial role in conflicts, allowing differing narratives to spread and compete. Additionally, translation is often weaponised as a propaganda tool. Although English is often regarded as the global language, 6 billion of the Earth’s 7 billion people  ‘don’t communicate in English at all’.  As a result, appeals for aid from war zones or areas affected by natural disasters are frequently translated into English in order to resonate with anglophone audiences. Furthermore, with organisations such as Médecins Sans Frontières providing relief workers from all over the globe, language barriers multiply, and translation becomes ever more necessary. 

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Covid-19, my journey

Written 15 April 2020.

The recent coronavirus outbreak has undoubtedly taken the world by storm. It has affected the life of every individual, either directly or through disruptions it has caused to societal normalcy. Flights from London back to my home country, Bhutan, transfer through Delhi or Bangkok, and amidst fears that the cities were soon going to go into  lockdown, I had to travel home around mid March. I did not think for once that I would contract the novel coronavirus. This mentality can mostly be attributed to the way the British government was reacting to the situation while I was in London. For many Londoners, life continued as normal, despite the alarming rate at which Covid-19 cases were growing. At Heathrow Airport, staff were not wearing even simple surgical masks. I was not screened for symptoms before boarding, nor was it mandatory for me to wear a mask or protective gear on the flight. In short, protocol measures were severely lacking in the face of this global pandemic. 

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Overcoming Foreign Dependency: Palestine’s Aid Problem

At a joint White House press conference on 28 January, alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump revealed the long-awaited political framework of his Peace to Prosperity plan: a series of proposals aimed at resolving the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and fulfilling the Palestinian demand for an independent state. The 180-page document rejects the Palestinian right to return and supports the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The move has since provoked criticism from the UN, which reaffirmed its commitment to a two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders, and from Palestine National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who in response to the plan announced the severing of all ties with Israel and the U.S. Beyond the feasibility of the ambitious proposals, which  include the longest road tunnel in the world, the complete lack of Palestinian involvement in the project illustrates the varied forms of foreign domination that the Occupied Palestinian Territory has historically been subjected to. Since the creation of Israel in 1948, Palestinian dependence on foreign assistance has seen it become the second largest recipient of international aid per capita in the world, yet 29% of the 4.8 million residents continue to live under the poverty line, with 2.4 million living in need of food assistance. The Palestinian experience raises questions about the effectiveness of long-term development aid that often fails to confront institutional limitations that inhibit self-sufficiency, while perpetuating the political and economic power dynamics that facilitate foreign dependency. 

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Will the EU finally tend its own garden?

Why the talk of a new ‘European awakening’ in the defence sphere is just rhetorical window-dressing.

‘We will not protect the Europeans unless we decide to have a true European army.’ Ever since Emmanuel Macron uttered these words in November 2018, the idea of a European Army is back in vogue. A year and a half later, it might appear like the stars are aligning to create the perfect conditions for a ‘golden Era’ of European defence cooperation.

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Event Review: ‘Skills Share’ Networking Event

The Education policy centre’s goals encompass not only evaluating and recommending education policy, but also helping to enrich the experience of students who study at our university.  For this reason, we hosted ‘Skills Share’, an opportunity for current students to get helpful advice on how to excel in various stages of the job application process. The event’s premise hinged on the identification that that UK higher education is not doing enough to equip students with skills that are essential to entering the workplace following their degrees. As a result, students frequently feel lost when starting job applications and balancing them  with their studies. This is especially difficult for students from under-represented backgrounds in Higher Education, including disabled and first-generation students. 

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The worrying rise of authoritarian police responses to protests in Europe

The right to protest is a fundamental right in European democracies. Yet in recent times, states have infringed upon this right, whether through legal restrictions such as the declaration of a state of emergency, or through more tangible responses such as  policing forces on the ground. This is a worrying trend, which throws into question European governments’ commitment to protecting this right. 

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Protection of Healthcare in Areas of Conflict

In 2018, 165 ongoing conflicts were reported worldwide, including state-based, non state-based, and one-sided violence. Each conflict unarguably violates international humanitarian law by attacking healthcare provisions in its respective nation. 2020 alone has already witnessed 26 deaths of healthcare personnel and 45 injuries in 7 different countries. Recently, on 20 February 2020, two major hospitals in Yemen’s Marib Province were badly damaged by crossfire, limiting the access of 15,000 people to healthcare. In Benazir University, which sits in Somalia’s Mogadishu district, 34 medical students were attacked, of which only 18 survived. 

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Sports Initiation Culture is not worth the ‘shot(s)’: Mental Health, Alcohol, and the University Experience

It’s a Wednesday night, which means it’s time for me to start getting ready for a busy shift at the student bar. It is also time for all of us to think about, look into and discuss university sports initiations and the culture behind them. I firmly believe that education, especially at university, goes beyond academic studies., I will be sharing research and thoughts on education with a focus on culture, wellbeing and inclusion as well as incorporating potential points of policy change. Given student initiations are the baptism into society life, I consider this the best place to start the conversation. 

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The EU’s (Next) Asia Strategy

The ascension of Josep Borrell to the position of European Union (EU) High Representative (HR/VP) on 1 December 2019 places an EU strategy for Asia that reaches  beyond ‘connectivity’ at the center of the political agenda towards the region. This article does not seek to comment on whether this strategy should be carried out. Rather, it assumes that the inherent limitations of the EU’s first coordinated attempt to formulate an EU connectivity strategy for Asia – officially entitled a Joint Communication on ‘Connecting Europe and Asia – building blocks for an EU strategy’ – are sufficiently pronounced to warrant consideration of the question: What should the next strategy be called? 

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Is there space for minority voices in teaching about the past?

While British universities pride themselves as centres of international education and cosmopolitanism, an increasing number of voices in recent years have questioned the ‘global’ nature of the curriculums on offer.  A ‘global’ environment may be perceived by the extent to which it includes and continuously works towards promoting a truly diverse community. By questioning whether higher education in the UK is truly ‘global’, students around the country have begun a very important, and often neglected, conversation: which voices get to be heard in our education about the past? As a history student, my personal experience with  learning about the past at university has enabled me to reflect on whether (and how) diversity can be allowed institutionally. Universities are under pressure to diversify their history curricula and, as students, it is our responsibility to inform ourselves on this topic. However, it is even more important to look at the same problem at an earlier, and potentially more important, level: that of school education and minority voices. This article addresses the lack of diversity in university curriculums and argues that the teaching of history at schools must shift towards inclusivity and away from grand narratives. It additionally maintains that this shift is crucial in attracting students from more diverse  backgrounds to enrol in arts and humanities, and that it is the only way to combat the ‘us versus them’ mentality so prevalent in perceptions of both history and current events. 

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