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Widening Participation BME Celebration Day

 

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This day proved to be an interesting way to recognise and celebrate the diverse cultures in Manchester, in the past and living in this vibrant city today. 

Year 9 students from William Hulme’s Grammar School and Stockport School joined together to explore significant dates when ethnic groups migrated to England from 1100 to 2000 with some surprising findings.  After much discussion, the students were led on a BME historical tour around the University of Manchester by Student Ambassadors, where they found out about key people and buildings, such as why the Student’s Union was named after the South African activist Steve Biko who fought against Apartheid and the Natwest Bank where German socialists Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx used to meet and talk about the rights of workers.  As part of the tour, the participants took pinhole camera shots of the John Owens Building. Owens generated his wealth from textile trade and left money to the creation of the Owens College, which he tried to made accessible with no religious entrance exams.

The University continues to have an interest in cotton, with the Art Gallery and the Museum both having hosted exhibitions looking the impact the quest for fabric textiles and cotton in countries in India and the Caribbean, as part of the British Empire.

In the afternoon, the pinhole images were developed, along with photograms inspired by the Museum’s collections.  The images of the University buildings were further enhanced using editing software on i-pads (see some examples below) and text poems created based on the students’ thoughts about their findings from the day.  Lots of very interesting thoughts around reasons for moving to other countries such as empire, trade and war, amongst others. Examples are “War brings people together” and “Home is where the heart is”.

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