Last month, students from across the Commonwealth joined the ACU Summer School 2022 hosted at Leeds Trinity University (LTU). The Summer School programme was focused on ‘Sport and regeneration: driving sustainability, community and wellbeing’ and coincided with the XXII Commonwealth Games taking place in Birmingham.
Among the students who attended the 2022 Summer School were three current Commonwealth Scholars: Vinith Bhandari, 2021 Commonwealth Scholar completing a Master’s in Therapeutic Studies at the University of Cambridge, Sahadat Hossain, 2021 Commonwealth PhD Scholar completing research in Behavioural Science and Health at University College London (UCL), and Nawreen Monir Proma, 2021 Commonwealth Scholar completing a Master’s in Cancer studies at UCL.
After the Summer School, Vinith, Sahadat, and Nawreen shared their thoughts about how the experience had enriched their scholarship and propelled them towards achieving their development impact.
What motivated you to apply for the ACU Summer School and how did you feel about being selected?
Nawreen Monir Proma (NMP): I always follow the CSC Newsletters and look for these interesting opportunities. I checked the ACU website and loved the versatility of the programme and immediately decided to apply. I was very happy and felt really privileged to be selected for this prestigious programme and it was so worth it.
Vinith Bhandari (VB): I wanted to experience something different from my usual coursework and studies but at the same time do something relevant to my area of interest. I felt really happy about being selected for the
I didn’t have any expectations from the Summer School. I was just looking forward to interacting with people from around the world and listening to their stories and interests in development and how they are working towards them.
Sahadat Hossain (SH): The contents of the Summer School programme focused on physical activity for health and well-being, and physical and behavioural health interventions motivated me immensely. I believed that this programme from a reputed institution like Leeds Trinity University, with an excellent educational milieu, would be an upward move in my career trajectory.
I am grateful that I received the opportunity to experience the cultural diversity of the Commonwealth Countries with 30 participants from 14 different countries through the ACU Summer School 2022.
Can you tell us a bit more about the ACU Summer School programme?
SH: The ACU Summer School 2022 at Leeds Trinity University was designed scientifically so that the participants could easily understand the significance of sports in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and take their initiatives for regeneration and community well-being.
Dr Jo Clarke, Senior Lecturer in Sports Business Management at Sheffield Hallam University, gave the first day’s lecture about the role of sport in tackling the SDGs. I found her lecture very interesting because she marked that sport-based policies and programmes can contribute to change around the world – and it was hoped that this summer school would help to empower us to think about the role of sport in our community to drive sustainability, community, and well-being. Learning about the case study of Cricket Without Boundaries (CWB) and their practical activity was also very enjoyable. The CWB works to grow the game of cricket worldwide while using the sport as a platform for health education and social change.
VB: There was a lot of cultural exchange, and this enhanced my own cultural intelligence. There were also lectures from various NGOs and researchers working in sports. Finally, we worked on a group initiative to use sports for a social change and in this I was able to collaborate with people from countries with very different cultural values and development challenges.
NMP: I really enjoyed doing the group project presentation with my team YOROKA and, fortunately, we became champions among the 6 groups and received our prizes from The Lord-Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Ed Anderson.
We also had mindfulness sessions, yoga classes, trekking, a York daytrip, Leeds strolling, a gala dinner, group presentations to propose a pitch, fascinating treasure hunt games as well as so many other interesting activities!
What was your favourite thing about visiting Leeds Trinity University?
VB: My favourite thing about visiting Leeds Trinity University was the hospitality and genuine interest shown by both the ACU staff and LTU staff towards us and towards the programme. They were very hospitable and created a comforting environment, especially for those visiting the UK for the first time.
SH: I enjoyed our tour of Leeds Cathedral and attending the farewell dinner there. We had our gala dinner at the Wheeler Hall of the Cathedral, and I received my certificate as a successful participant in the ACU Summer School 2022.
NMP: About visiting Leeds Trinity University, my favourite things would be the en-suite accommodation, EXCELLENT food, and cute rabbits!
What was the most important thing you gained from the ACU Summer School and how will it help you in the future?
VB: International friends are the most important thing I gained from the summer school. Being able to discuss things of global importance, learning about each other’s cultures and collaborating on mutual goals. This summer school gave me a retreat from my usual academic stress but at the same time it was engaging and inspiring, especially to see what others are doing and how we can collaborate better on global goals. It gave me confidence and rekindled my faith in my work.
NMP: The most important thing would be good teamwork skills and how to respect each other’s opinions even in a conflict situation. Our 6-membered ACU Summer School 2022 champion team was the best example of teamwork I have ever encountered. This experience has helped me to be confident, free, and motivated me to engage by sharing my knowledge and accepting others with an open heart.
SH: The most significant thing that I have gained from the ACU Summer School is intercultural connectivity, in which we can work collaboratively to combat the inequalities of our societies and achieve the well-being of people through different projects.
Based on my summer school experience, I intend to establish a non-profit organization in my country that will address adolescent and youth behavioural health issues through evidence-based research and programmes. By collaborating with my Summer School fellows, I will extend the activities of my organisation in their countries, thus contributing to sustainable development within and outside my home country.
Finally, what would be your advice to any Scholars thinking of applying for next year’s Summer School?
SH: To me, the ACU Summer School event is exceptional in terms of its unique and rewarding character. As an alumnus of the ACU Summer School, I would be pleased to recommend this programme to our Commonwealth Scholars to apply for the ACU Summer School event in 2023.
VB: My advice to future scholars is to apply without hesitation and be prepared to be amazed and inspired by the events. Although, keep an open mind and be mindful of your interactions and try to stay away from cultural stereotypes and biases when interacting with fellow participants.
NMP: To Scholars next year I’d say, it will be a life-changing experience. The lessons I gained in one week brought me a lot of confidence, positivity, and blessed me with meaningful friendships with likeminded people.