Dreaming big landed Ahmed the role of Student Union President
When Ahmed Emara, form Egypt, took his place at the University of the West of England last year standing in the elections for the role of Student’s Union President could not have been further from his mind. Instead he was looking forward to living in the UK and starting his Masters in International Banking and Finance Law.
Yet, in a few weeks he is to take up the position of SU President, so what changed?
Ahmed’s response to this question is simple. “It is about a collective sense of responsibility. Feeling that being at university isn’t just about studying. It is about making the time students have at university the best it can be.”
Within two months of arriving, Ahmed put himself forward for the role of Student Union President, arguably the most high profile position a student can have. He admits that it was a lot tougher than he expected and he wasn’t fully prepared.
When Ahmed arrived in the UK standing in the elections for the role of Student’s Union President could not have been further from his mind
He was up against six candidates. All of whom were home students and all of whom were 2nd or 3rd year students with a team to help them. Nevertheless Ahmed came fourth!
He was undeterred by his defeat and ran for Campus Officer and was successful in securing that position, which helped him prepare for running for the SU President role again.
He admits one of his biggest motivations for wanting to be the SU President has been the need for more unity and integration on campus between home students and international students.
International students should see their time in the UK as a time to build a global alumni
For example he feels passionate that international students should see their time in the UK as an opportunity to build a global alumni and push themselves to try new things and challenge themselves outside of their studies.
Although he is quick to point out that international students do face distinct challenges. “I come from an Arabic speaking country and a very different culture to the one in the UK. And I have had to work incredibly hard to understand British culture, so it makes me sad that some people on campus can be dismissive of me because I speak with an accent.”
The other thing that frustrates him and something he feels he will be able to address as the SU President is the distinct divide on campus between home students and international students. “It frustrates me knowing that international students are missing out on the full university experience and home students are missing out on the diversity international students bring to campus life.”
His campaigning has centred around unifying all students at UWE to see themselves as part of one big, inclusive family that can help and support each other and most of all celebrate each other’s differences.
One thing that distinguished his campaign was the creation of a Facebook page that spread positive posts around campus to help students cope with student life and particularly help international students deal with being homesick.
Ahmed wants to show international students are willing and able to get involved in campus life
Whilst Ahmed is not the first SU President at UWE to be an international student he hopes his perspective will help him bring the student community at UWE together!
Ahmed has achieved his vision to bring change to campus life. By thinking big he has landed the role of SU President. It is an inspiring story with one lesson at its core, which is being at university is about so much more than just studying.
When asked what advice he would give other international students. He doesn’t have to pause. “My advice without a doubt is get involved! Learn about British culture, make friends from around the world and make the most of your time on campus. If you don’t like something be part of changing it and don’t think the SU isn’t for you. It has something to offer every student, you just have to find it!
Image courtesy of © UWE Bristol.