A fourth-year student ambassador will support the University post-graduation by organising ‘Dialogue Dinners’ to promote intercultural awareness and respect.
Suzanne Buiter, an International Management student in Stirling Management School, brought the idea back from a four-day residential trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
She was one of 30 students from 22 universities in 20 Commonwealth countries selected to attend the Association for Commonwealth Universities’ (ACU) leadership programme, on the theme of respect and understanding, at the end of last year.
The residential school, which was organised by ACU in partnership with Heriot-Watt University and not-for-profit organisation Common Purpose, brought together a diverse group of young leaders to come up with constructive tools and ideas to promote respect at their home institutions and beyond.
Dr Tessa Parkes.
Suzanne, who is originally from the Netherlands, said: “There were so many people from all over the world; you had to leave all your preconceptions at the door. It was fascinating to see how they look at things so differently.
“It also allowed me to see how well the University of Stirling is doing when it comes to inclusion, diversity and respect. Many of those attending were inspired by the initiatives we have.
“You could also clearly see which countries are already more developed on this front, and countries that are still at the beginning of creating a more diverse and respective community.
“It was a great personal experience.”
Suzanne is now hoping to organise a series of Dialogue Dinners – where diners are given a set topic to chat about – with the support of the Students’ Union and University.
Suzanne, a faculty officer and student ambassador, was chosen to represent the University at the ACU event by a panel chaired by Dean for Equality and Diversity Dr Tessa Parkes, with support and input from the Students’ Union.
Dr Parkes said: “We have been working on a series of initiatives here in the University to promote respect and understanding, including our strategy and implementation plan to prevent and tackle sexual violence. The theme of interculturalism and respect is one of the four Equality Outcomes we are working on between 2017-2021.
“The University chose Suzanne to represent the Stirling community at this exciting leadership opportunity because of her curiosity and enthusiasm for intercultural working, and passion to get involved and make a difference as a student leader.
“We are now actively working with Suzanne and the Students’ Union to develop follow-up initiatives connected to this experience, including the Dialogue Dinners.”
Union President Astrid Smallenbroek said: “I’m incredibly pleased that Suzanne got the opportunity to attend the ACU residential school. It’s fantastic Stirling was represented internationally. I think the Dialogue Dinners idea which she has brought back will enrich interculturalism and respect at Stirling and I can’t wait to help implement them.”