Diversity has been the topic of many recent discussions surrounding the topic of Public Relations, whether its discussing issues surrounding the gender pay gap or the prejudice some people face in the workplace.
I’ve always lived in Yorkshire, and now I am also studying in Yorkshire, apart from the yearly holidays, I have never fully emerged myself in another culture, or honestly never felt the need to until my time spent studying a Master’s in Public Relations and Strategic Communications at Leeds Beckett University.
Whichever profession you go into its important to be culturally aware. If anything has prepared me for this interaction, it’s been University. My public relations course is very exceptional as it allows students enrolled in the partnered International Communications Masters course to study each semester abroad, delivered by four European Universities: Leeds Beckett University, Hanze University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, IULM in Italy and Vilnius University in Lithuania.
Whilst I sat down on my first day on the course, not too far from my hometown, I was pleasantly surprised to hear a vast number of people’s home countries as we went around the room introducing ourselves. We have people from 11 different countries sat in our classroom – that’s not always an interaction opportunity you get the chance of having. A few weeks later I was working in teams with people from countries I previously and quite embarrassingly knew almost nothing about, and found my cultural knowledge being enriched. It has developed my thinking and enhanced my successes working within a team, preparing me for a career in communications.
The course offered many team work opportunities with excellent companies, including a PR campaign with IKEA. Having such an ethnically diverse group with various opinions and experiences boosted our planning process, and taught me a lot about consideration within team work. Without these understandings, we would have not had such a well-rounded effective idea which led us to being the winning team.
I have thoroughly relished learning about so many cultures on a personal and professional level. Quite honestly, I am envious of their ability to speak so many languages, and their involvement in exploring education across the globe. Although I didn’t take this journey myself, the students joining us at Leeds Beckett and sharing their experiences has stimulated everyone with their different attitudes and beliefs, its enriched my work and my team effort. Luckily for me, my beloved city of Leeds is very diverse with many languages spoken, with different cultures living in the same city – including, of course the range of cuisines it offers, something I took for granted after hearing about cultures and cities all over the world with scarcer sense of diversity.
I have seen the importance of achieving diversity without prejudice even more throughout my year studying. Whilst on the course I went from being part of a diverse team in class, to leading diverse teams through the Leeds Beckett University outreach program. Teaching young people from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds in schools around the Leeds and Bradford area. Throughout my role as an outreach ambassador I worked with these young people, teaching them about our higher education system. Aiding them in self-assurance and knowledge to go on and have a successful education journey regardless of their backgrounds.
Me on Leeds Beckett University campus with fellow international ambassadors
I also recently took part in a project through the University with Leeds charity – Space 2 which promotes ‘collaboration projects as part of the solution in some of Leeds’ most challenged neighbourhoods’. We as a team partnered with local school Allerton Primary, known for having excellently diverse students and practicing many religions to develop children’s minds.
Me and a colleague on the Leeds Beckett campus
The project was based around the communities that came together in Leeds during the Battle of the Somme. In honor of this we aided the children in creating a WW1 ‘Dazzle ship which was colored in patterns that represented the diverse and individual stories of the pupils at the school, this was then showcased as part of the campaign at West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds. To read more about this project please click here.
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