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We Are All Immigrants: A week of themed learning and celebration of diversity

Posted 3rd March 2017

Students and staff across the college have been learning about the experience of people who travel from other countries to make the UK their home, and celebrating the diversity of our college community.

The themed week: #WeAreAllImmigrants was fully embraced across the college with events, activities, lesson plans and tutorials. The week was co-ordinated by members of the teaching union UCU alongside other staff and students.

At the launch event, Meg Hillier MP enjoyed a rich variety of speeches and performances of poetry and music by students. She said that more understanding and support is needed for people fleeing their homes to find safety in the UK.

Student Association president Manuel Obiang Andong described his own journey from Equatorial Guinea via Spain and the challenges faced by speakers of English as a second language. He urged everyone to care for others in the way that they would like to be cared for themselves if they had to leave their homeland.

Borough Principal Lois Fowler reminded everyone that the east of London has a long history of hosting migration and helping new arrivals to develop their skills and talents and that the college continues to provide that support.

The launch event was chaired by student adviser and UCU equality officer Elane Heffernan who said: “It is important in a time of growing racism and xenophobia for the whole college to come together to build understanding and solidarity with migrant students and staff. The UCU is firmly in favour of the freedom of movement and stands with staff and students in colleges whose freedom to be here is under threat.” Branch secretary Michaela Hendriks spoke passionately about our role as citizens of world and not simply a nation.

In one class activity, ESOL students made paper boats carrying messages of support and encouragement to migrants in camps or newly arrived in London, along with calls for more support from policymakers.

The activities of the #WeAreAllImmigrants themed week spanned the campuses of the New City College Group, the dynamic group of colleges in East London comprising Hackney Community College and Tower Hamlets College, and from April 2017 Redbridge College.