When reflecting on some of the challenges she has faced as a diaspora leader, Rua Alshekh, Media and Sociology PhD graduate, notes that meeting members of other diaspora groups with similar experiences to her own has proved difficult. Leaving her country of origin at sixteen years old, Rua was keen to meet other diaspora leaders to explore how to contribute to both her country of heritage and a new culture. Attending the United Diaspora programme allowed Rua to interact with different diaspora of the world, sharing experiences and strategies for diaspora action.
Being part of the 2019 United Diaspora programme was such an enjoyable experience for me. When my friend recommended that I apply for the programme, I got really excited at the idea of being able to communicate with members from other diaspora communities and to be able to share our experiences. It has been a dream for me to bring different diaspora groups together in one place and United Diaspora made this dream come true. I think the programme is a great idea as it provides us with a platform to exchange ideas and to explore what unites us as diaspora leaders. I met amazing people from lots of different cultures who truly understood what being a diaspora member means.
As a diaspora member who left their country of origin at the age of sixteen, the main challenge that I faced was finding members of other diaspora groups who shared the same experience as myself and to meet diaspora who understand the challenges of staying connected to my heritage while at the same time integrating into a new culture.
I view diaspora leadership as being able to gather your diaspora group in one place and listen to the problems that diaspora members are facing, as well as trying to find solutions for such obstacles. Being a diaspora leader also means being able to use your skills and experiences to motivate others to integrate into your host country at the same time as keeping links with your country of origin.
Networking with other diaspora leaders taught me how to be open when talking about my experiences. During the programme, my most powerful moment was when I led a conversation as part of an open space activity about education and diaspora. Throughout the discussion we considered how four different diaspora leaders view the topic and I felt empowered when leading the conversation as I realised how hearing the views of different diaspora groups would impact me.
United Diaspora has helped me with my mission of raising diaspora voices and to meet members of my diaspora community, which is hard to find in my opinion. I am excited by the possibility of creating our own mini space while at the same time, staying connected to the larger 2019 United Diaspora alumni group.