Updated: Feb 15, 2020
By Hana Taher and Dorian Wattel
For the first blogpost of this new decade, we wanted to share another side of student lives on the Woudestein campus. There are plenty of meaningful student-led initiatives that deserve to be highlighted and numerous thought-provoking stories to be recounted. We are therefore very happy to welcome Hana Taher, the co-founder of The Us Space, on this week's issue to tell us about the project she started with Milly Ssebudde.
Hi Hana! Can you tell us a little bit about what The Us Space entails?
The Us Space is all about celebrating diversity and taking action towards inclusion. The Us Space is a platform, created by Milly and I, to further encourage discussions surrounding human differences, like race, culture, religion and many different topics. We believe that we have to delve deep in these certain topics as no one around us on campus was discussing them. Along with these discussions, we believe that certain policies within Erasmus University needed to change to create the safe space needed for international students. Successfully, we were able to implement a more clear policy with the university to make it easier for students to report unwanted behavior and get the help needed.
What is the story behind it? How did it start?
The whole story behind The Us Space started when I personally encountered discrimination based on my religion in my own class. For me, it was the first time ever I experienced such a thing. I had a hard time dealing with it and becoming aware of it, but Milly was with me every step of the way. She encouraged me to go and report it, and I did. However, the university did not help much and was sort of “lost” when they were faced with a situation like this. This is when we knew we had to do something about it and take matters within our own hands. To create the safe space needed for students in the university to talk about these personal matters.
Why is it important to have an organisation or initiative such as The Us Space?
The Us Space is a platform rather than an organisation. We do not like to identify as an organisation or a community, because we are more than that. We are not specific to certain type of activity or group of people. With The Us Space, Milly and I learned a lot through the people that show up to our Real Talks. In our Real Talks, the people and us don’t just speak generally and broadly, we dive so deep into the conversation that it touches on personal experiences, own beliefs, and personal perspectives. We have witnessed people come in with one belief or opinion and leave changing it based on what we learn and discuss through these conversations. It is important because not only do we talk about important topics, but we also learn through other people’s experiences which introduces awareness and empathy.
What has been going on this year and what is coming up?
We usually have Real Talks once every month. For this past academic year, we had several Real Talks covering topics like: “Drugs, Alcohol & My Circle” and “There Is Only One Race”. This month, on February the 28th, we have another Real Talk, where the topic is “What about the MENtality?”. This talk will be a conversation that is male-led, discussing fears, pressures and the current state of the relationship among men. It will be held at the Living Room in the Tinbergen Building (H6.2).
You could check our facebook event for more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/492863608041641/