Tiara Ataii is the founder and director of SolidariTEE, the largest student-led charity in the UK. She is also a final year undergrad in 'Middle Eastern Studies' and a member of Robinson college. In 2019, Tiara was awarded the Vice-Chancellor's Social Impact Award for her organisation. SolidariTEE raises awareness and funds for the refugee crisis by selling t-shirts on over 40 university campuses across the UK. When Tiara started the campaign in her first year at Cambridge, she sold 600 t-shirts on her own, off her bike. Three years later, the campaign has almost 500 volunteers involved and raised over 150.000 pounds last year. Funds are invested in providing legal, sustainable aid to refugees in Greece. In this interview, Tiara reflects back on her journey with SolidariTEE: how it all started, what hurdles she overcame along the way and which new challenges are currently emerging for refugees during the pandemic.
Especially now, in times of Covid-19, refugees are exposed to even further risks. Threats to their health and wellbeing have worsened, as a consequence of living in tightly packed spaces, with no room to practise basic hygiene and social distancing. Tiara powerfully demonstrates how students can express solidarity and speak out in support of refugees. Visit www.solidaritee.org.uk to find out more and purchase your own t-shirt. Follow Cambridge Quaranchats on Facebook or Twitter @CamQuaranchats (twitter.com/CamQuaranchats)
Dr. Mark Carrigan is a digital sociologist in the Faculty of Education, at the University of Cambridge. His research focuses on how digital platforms are reshaping our education systems. Mark is the author of the book 'Social Media for Academics' and advises both individuals and organisations on their use of social media to build their identity and network online. In this episode, we discuss the use of social media during the coronavirus pandemic, when we're all spending increasing amounts of time online and in front of screens. Mark explains why, after publishing his book on social media, he decided to delete his personal Twitter account as a way to follow his own advice: ''Find a way to use social media that works for you.''
In this episode we discuss some of the recent issues with Zoom and the risk of increased surveillance built into these platforms. Mark points to the need to be more reflexive about the ways in which we use these tools in our academic practices, and how they influence our work and our interactions with each other. Mark has been working on a book on 'reflexivity' in connection to technology and digital platforms, and shares with us how his attitude towards them has changed throughout his time spent exploring digital media. He has also been trying to finish another work on the sociological phenomenon of 'distraction', but ironically enough, he has been too distracted to finish it! In this podcast, he explains why. I ask him everything from why social media can be so addictive, to what he thinks about the rapid digitization of education taking place today.
Find Mark's blog here: https://markcarrigan.net, to find out more. He also has his own podcast: https://anchor.fm/theisolationpod. Follow Cambridge Quaranchats on Facebook and Twitter @CamQuaranchats.
Deena Newaz is an MPhil student at the Faculty of Education and a member of Wolfson College, Cambridge University. Before starting her Masters, Deena worked as an education and international development professional for WISE and the Qatar Foundation. She co-authored the recently published book ''Ed Futures: A Collection of Short Stories on the Future of Education''. In this episode, Deena and I discuss the importance of storytelling as a practice that helps us envision and shape possible futures to come. In her book, she used speculative fiction as a method to imagine what education might look like in a world increasingly impacted by migration, climate change and technological advancement. In the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, Deena argues that now more than ever, we should return to the ancient tradition of storytelling in order to prepare for the post-pandemic future. Rather than the future being fixed or pre-determined, stories can help us change trajectory and collectively imagine new pathways forward, including for institutions like Cambridge University. Deena also offers insights into how she has used this time of lockdown to explore her spiritual life more in-depth, and how she has found ways to cope with experiences of loss and grief. Whilst we mourn the loss of lives and of time, and even of the 'Cambridge Experience', creative space simultaneously opens up for new opportunities, new ideas and new stories to emerge. Follow Cambridge Quaranchats on Facebook and Twitter @CamQuaranchats.
Simina Dragos is a postgraduate student at Cambridge's Faculty of Education and a member of Fitzwilliam college. She is also an activist for Roma rights, and powerfully infuses advocacy into her academic work. In this episode, Simina points out the alarming increase of online racism in Romania directed against Roma people as a consequence of the pandemic. How does the global health crisis, and its accompanying measures of social distancing, push minority groups even further to the margins of society? This discussion touches upon the challenges of (access to) online learning and working from home, as well as our social responsibility to take care of each other through difficult times, especially when state governments are unreliable in their response. For Simina, everyday resistance against the exacerbation of social inequalities ultimately lies within the simplest, yet simultaneously most difficult task of all: the act of taking up space.
This episode, I am joined by Angana Das, an MPhil student in Education and International Development at Cambridge University. Her research focuses on the education of happiness in Indian schools, where she studies how students can be taught to be happier and more compassionate human beings. She is also a fellow of CPERG, the Conflict, Peace and Education Research Group at the Education Faculty. We discuss her latest blog article for CPERG, titled 'Hope in Times of Uncertainty', where she identifies three kinds of hope that are essential for this time of global pandemic: hope for being, hope for togetherness and hope for meaning. In this podcast interview, Angana shares with us her deepest insights into the importance of hopefulness by drawing on her personal experience of learning to live with a chronic pain disorder and the daily uncertainties that come with it.
Dr. Karen Pinkus is Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at Cornell University. She is currently a Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall and involved with the CRASSH centre at Cambridge University. Her work focuses on climate change and explores different kinds of fuel from a critical humanities perspective. In this episode, she discusses how Covid-19 and climate change may - and may not - effect one another and she clarifies some of the confusion around their connection. For instance, why are social media memes and images of clear skies and happy dolphins misleading our thinking about environmental change? After reflecting on 30 years of professorship within change-resistant institutions of higher education, Karen Pinkus looks ahead at the next 30 years to come. She raises important questions about the challenges that the University system, and the Humanities particularly, will face due to the pandemic.
Michelle Anjirbag is a PhD student finishing up her doctoral dissertation on Children's Literature. She shares her expert advice on working from home and discusses how she deals with writing and supervising amidst uncertainty. While the future of academia and especially humanities is insecure and under threat, Michelle argues why now is the time for us to push back against the marketization of education, to speak up against ignorance and to elevate the voices of those that deserve to be heard.
Anna Oakes, MPhil student in Modern Languages student at Cambridge University, answers questions about what to do, and what NOT to do, in quarantine. Find out which item she stockpiles during quarantine, and what stands out to her most about the global political response to Covid-19.
In this episode I chat with Megan, a cultural anthropology student at Clare Hall, about how our research plans got affected by the Covid-19 crisis, and how we've dealt with this. We share our insights on the art of slowing down, practicing gratitude and being more present in the here and now.
Kareem Tamam is a Law student at Cambridge University with a talent for comedy. Kareem talks about the changes he has noticed as a result of Covid-19, such as the downfall of crime during lockdown, but also a surge of kite flyers in London. Find out what the 'Cambridge Experience' means to Kareem, why he struggles with being 'PC' (politically correct) and what his go-to quarantine soundtrack is. Be warned: this episode might just make you laugh!
Yomna talks about her previous experiences with lockdown during Arab Spring and what she thinks about using metaphors of war in the Covid-19 context. She also explains why she is happy that the 'Cambridge experience' didn't turn out to be how she had imagined it. Bonus: find out Yomna's life hack on how to get the best seats at formal halls!
In this kick-off episode, I chat with Eleanor Ryan about the importance of music in times of crisis. Eleanor is a professional violinist, who worked in the Caribbean island of Trinidad for nearly 10 years. She is now doing a Master's at Cambridge University in Arts, Creativity and Education and plans on continuing for a PhD after the summer. Her research explores the 'whiteness' of classical music and the performativity of race in musical pedagogy. Her work is auto-ethnographic and critically investigates the role of white music teachers in the Caribbean context. In this episode, we discuss the ways in which musicians around the world have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the resilience of many artists and musicians when it comes to finding new channels of creativity. We also discuss the flourishing of new friendships in Cambridge during this time of collective quarantine and our initial experiences of the pandemic in the UK, right after the country moved into lockdown.