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QM Student: Nik Haukhol

Monday 8 April 2013

Nik Haukohl, a second year BA Geography student from Munich, Germany, tells us about why he decided to get involved with QM’s Leadership and Community Organising programme:

‘The Leadership and Community Organising programme was offered by Queen Mary’s Geography Department in collaboration with London Citizens. I signed up for the course in early October 2012 and was part of the first cohort of about 30 students to complete the programme this academic year. The programme has now been extended to students from other disciplines because there is, of course, no reason why other students shouldn’t join.’

‘The programme is run by Ruhana Ali, who is a Community Organiser for Tower Hamlets, part of London Citizens. The programme offers a very good introduction into topics of power and leadership. It delivers an insight on how negotiations and debates between two parties work and on how agreements are made and action is taken.’

‘After my first session on the programme I was took the opportunity to join Ruhana at a meeting with Barclays in Canary Wharf to discuss student work opportunities and internships. We met with two members of staff at Barclays and we were able to gain an insight into what the issues are surrounding work opportunities and what needs to be done. This meeting was part of building a partnership with the bank which could be vital for London Citizens, and hopefully for students from Queen Mary too. I am very grateful for being given the opportunity to take into action what I had learned only a day before. London Citizens is now continuing to build a relationship with Barclays.
Developing leadership skills is vitally important for anyone who wants to be part of decision making processes and who wants to have a say in what needs to be or should be done in the world. Any social group or community needs leaders who organise ideas concepts and strategies with others to change things for the better. Learning about leadership, about power and what it means to possess or lack both, is something that should be part of any form of education.’

‘We live in a world where problems often result from misunderstandings and the lack of communication. I think bringing together communities and groups from all angles of society to one table will help to create the cohesion needed to overcome some of the issues. Especially in the context of London, a city with a hugely diverse population in terms of country of origin or ethnic background, problems are best solved by talking and bringing people together to reach agreements. For this to happen, leaders and representatives need to stand up for voices that are often unheard and remain marginalised within a dominant mainstream flow of information. The world is always changing and globalisation accelerates these changes. Leaders have the task of addressing these changes and more importantly gear this changing world towards one of more understanding and peace.’

‘I would advise all students to consider taking part in this programme and getting involved in volunteering in general. Keep an eye on what’s out there, there really is something for everyone. Your university degree is important but certainly not everything that matters, so spend time away from studies too! Just having a first in your degree is not going to get you the jobs you aim for so get out there and do something – you decide where you put your own barriers!’

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