On the 22 of February, the Democratic Education Network (DEN) organised a full day event of passionate poetry, music, and good vibes. Students, lecturers and members of the public got together to appreciate and celebrate diversity at Westminster.
The event was kicked off with an exhibition of photographs taken by students expressing important issues, events and showcasing the talents of our diverse students. Some of the photographs included successful events previously organised by DEN such as the Gala Dinner in December. Photographs of students studying International Development who visited Vietnam in December last year were also displayed.
As the day went on, our amazing guest poets and singers passionately took to the stage to perform soulful poetry and songs, composed by them. One of the most mesmerising performers for the night was spoken word artist, Tanaka who performed songs about growing up as an African boy in East London, and love. With his positive aura and charming voice, Tanaka captivated his audience as he performed his poems.
We were lucky enough to host London based spoken word artist/poet and Westminster alumni, Shareefa Energy. Shareefa has an Indian heritage and uses her voice to raise awareness and challenge topics about women explicitly in the South Asian community and migrants. One piece that particularly stood out for me was her poetry on Grenfell Tower, and how she describes how children would “close their eyes to escape reality”. She continues to travel in the UK and abroad to share her story and mentally grow and empower women to be strong and powerful.
We also had the pleasure of hearing from one of our own multitalented students, Adeela Ejaz, a current student at Westminster who not only writes beautiful poetry but also has an engaging blog about mental health. Adeela bravely shares her experience about growing up with mental health issues specifically in the South Asian community. In her poem The Little Brown Girl, Adeela shares how she learned how to embrace her differences and love herself. This left us all admiring Adeela’s courage and a little more understanding of people who face the same issues every day.
This was followed by a performance from the spoken word artist Emy P, who performed her own songs and poems. Her songs lyrics focused on her struggle growing up with ADHD, Emy gave listeners an insight about her experiences as a child. She made us appreciate the emotions that people with disorders have. She made us understand that mental illnesses cannot be seen and we mustn’t be judgemental and instead open-minded when meeting people.
The Difference Festival 2019 gave us a chance to meet a bunch of beautiful and gifted creatives, who will hopefully continue to love their unique qualities.
Having events like this is important to enhance the university experience, as it allows students to get involved and participate in extracurricular activities that are not related to their course. It also allows students to be comfortable and free to speak up on matters that they think are of significance.
Check out and support the artists who came to perform by searching their socials.
Rida Jan, Year 2, International Relations and Development.