We are a student-led magazine that focuses on Glasgow Caledonian Universityâ€™s students and their stories. So many great people at our university are part of creating a better world for themselves and others - both in and outside university. We believe these stories should not go unheard.
WE WECHAMPION CHAMPIONTHE THEUNDERDOGS! UNDERDOGS!
CONTENTS Katharina Winterhalder Unity Is Strength
Eilidh Fulton From Shy Shell to Student President
Máté Tóth Ridovics Videogames, Storytelling, and Social Issues
Agnieszka Michalska Don’t Ask, Don’t Get
Jenna Woods Sustainable Food in Scotland... Then The World
Why should I read this: Founder of NGO New ways of helping Sustainable support
i n a j o m U u v u g N - ‘unity is strength’ in international partnerships
Katharina Winterhalder, a recent graduate from the MSc Social Business and Microfinance programme at GCU, tells us about her first experiences in international support work and one in particular that shaped her understanding that “people helping” is not what is needed for creating sustainable change. 1
Ten years ago, I set foot on African soil for the first time. Growing up in a tiny village in the Black forest in Germany I was intrigued by the world out there. I started thinking about the most exotic place I could possibly go to, and ways that I could make positive impacts. From a young age I was fascinated by Africa. A fascination that was fuelled by documentaries and ads of charities presenting this continent as an exotic â€œlandâ€? and the people urgently in need of help. Moving to East Africa and volunteering with the poorest people seemed to be the perfect step for making this world a little bit better before starting my medical studies. Or so I thought, ten years ago, filled by a mixture of courage and naivety.
Little did I know that this would be the start of unexpected challenges, inspiring encounters and devastating revelations. I also did not know that it would lead me to a partnership with a women’s group in the rural Kilimanjaro area. A partnership which later would guide my decision to engage in my master’s studies at GCU and to this day teaches me in unexpected ways that ‘unity is strength’ (Kiswahili: ‘Umoja ni Nguvu’).
s i y t i un gth n e tr
TAN ZAN IA
My journey first led me to Kenya, then to Tanzania. Here, at the bottom of Mount Kilimanjaro, I worked in a street childrenâ€™s home. With the childrenâ€™s help I overcame my initial culture shock and learned Kiswahili. This opened a whole new world to me. I loved the hospitality, feeling of community and joy of life that contrasted some of the harsh life conditions my colleagues and I faced in our everyday work.
They called themselves Rudisha, which in Kiswahili means “to give back”. The group had recently started when eight women from low socioeconomic backgrounds formed a sewing group to support their families and send their children to school. Former volunteers had already helped by selling Rudisha products in their countries of origin to promote the group’s development. Impressed by the women’s work and touched by their stories, I wanted to help too. 5
And suddenly I was part of the group. For over a year I visited the group several times a week. I got to know the women and some of the hardships they faced. I grew very fond of every single one of them and was deeply impressed by their strength and willingness to learn and move forward.
Together with other volunteers, we met as women from different countries and cultures, unifying in our venture to see Rudisha flourish and these women become selfdependent. Working with Rudisha, I felt this incredible “crossing-national-borders” sense of community and vision of female empowerment. ‘Umoja ni Nguvu’ means ‘unity is strength’ - this Kiswahili saying stayed with us.
Social studies Suddenly I knew I couldn’t study medicine anymore. I wanted to know how I could help these wonderful women and many more in the best possible way. Hence, in 2012, I returned to Germany to begin studies in International Social Work. In the semester breaks I travelled to Tanzania, continuing my work with the women, designing new product lines and selling them abroad. At the same time questions of power relations and professionalism appeared. The greater the sales internationally, the more I started struggling with my role when I visited the women. Although I was half the age of most of the women (age being culturally an important aspect for respect and leadership), they suddenly saw me as their leader, waiting for my guidance on how to use funds and how to prepare orders.
Unintentionally, in our way of “helping” we had reinforced power relations between the Global North and South. My colleagues and I realised we had fallen into a trap. A trap of creating dependencies instead of sustainability. The Rudisha products were not in high demand locally and sales abroad were relying on voluntary engagement that was limited on its own. The fixed costs were high, and it was unrealistic that the women would ever be able to finance the group activities on their own. They depended on us and the incoming funds to make a living. And in a broader sense on our voluntary engagement and the sponsor’s goodwill. 8
Halfway through my Bachelorâ€™s degree in International Social Work, I began to realise that I was experiencing some of the negative impacts of charity work and development aid first hand. My professors had warned us about the act of â€œhelping.â€? If you are helping, you are playing an active role (helping) while the person being helped is passive. They told us that supporting, from a social work perspective, meant strengthening individual and community resources to promote self-agency and to be critically aware of your intentions. This led to many talks with the women on how we could take a step back and best work together to support them to be successful without relying on our help.
This realisation led me to refocus on social challenges in Germany and looking for ways how other professional social workers dealt with power imbalances. It further fuelled my interest in finding solutions, addressing the gap between finance-providing sponsors and socially oriented organisations. This was my first step towards social entrepreneurship studies.
At the same time in Tanzania, Mama A. reached out to their former teacher S. for advice. A couple of months later they called me and told me about the developments.
In their own inspiring way, they had motivated women to start trusting and relying on their very own community and individual resources. One of the steps involved starting a microfinance project. Here, more than 15 women of the area met weekly, each contributing about a pound to a pot. This money would then go to one woman, supporting her own business, help her family or initiate a group activity. I was very impressed and eager to learn more. We stayed in touch and talked about ways how we could potentially continue to cooperate in the future. At this point we revisited the previous plans of funding the construction of the house. We came together and decided to jointly fund the completion of the office.
â€œthey had motivated women to start trusting and relying on their very own community and individual resources.â€?
Women walking to the office
This was 5 years ago. Since then, the house has attracted many women and the bond of our partnership has grown stronger. Mama A. and S. are working as a team in Tanzania, supporting and mentoring women in every step whether it be a soap making business or building a fish farm. And the WaKA board and I are supporting them wherever we can. In Skype meetings with Rudisha we share our ideas, discuss feasibility and talk about success and challenges in our everyday life and work. It is not about me “helping” anymore, it is about supporting them to create impact, in their own way, in their own community. Suddenly, it is there again, the Umoja ni Nguvu, unity is strength. 13
“it is about supporting them to create impact, in their own way, in their own community.”
we are always teachers and students at the same time. Working for and with people in East Africa has made me understand some of the downfalls of development aid and made me realise that “helping” is not necessarily what makes this world a better and fairer place. I came to East Africa to make changes and left as a changed person. I am happy that today I have relationships with women all over the world that are based on human dignity, respect, and trust in our very own potentials and paths. Today I know we are always teachers and students at the same time. I would encourage students to stay curious and to step out of their comfort zone. Furthermore, I would urge people to look for solutions that align with individual and community values and resources and address the notions of “helping” more critically. 15
Why should I read this: Change for students A unique job role How to start your journey
t n e d u t S t n e d i s e Pr
From ll shy sheto
Eilidh Fulton is the Student President of the Glasgow Caledonian University Student Association. Taking on the unique role, she has pushed past her comfort zone and now represents 17,000 students at the university. 17
Eilidh returned home to Scotland from America at the age of 18. First, she attended college to study social sciences and later gained a second-year entry to Glasgow Caledonian University. During her second and third year at university, Eilidh got involved with societies - mainly the psychology society. At the time, Eilidh was also a class rep which she describes as low key but very impactful. Her engagement led to her gaining a place on the society council which aims to make sure societies are running as they should be. When the council encouraged her to run for her current president role Eilidh realised it was good timing as she was in need of a break from studying â€“ and so she went for it. In the beginning she was very nervous, but she has grown immensely and believes the experience has lifted her out of her shy shell. 18
“You start to dip your toes in the water , and the next thing you know, you’re sucked into it”
There is no doubt that Eilidh enjoys the job. Although she describes it as challenging, the good definitely outweighs the bad. The election process itself was incredibly rewarding as she learnt a lot about herself. Being re-elected is one of Eilidh’s fondest memories. She did not expect to win and wasn’t prepared to give a speech when she was pulled on stage. Shocked and amazed, she began crying on stage, and reflects gratefully, “I wanted it so much. You put so much into an election, and you’re so dead. To know that it has paid off is a really nice feeling - to have that many people support you.”
As student president, Eilidh has a variety of tasks and responsibilities including preparation for meetings with various people. Starting out as vice president, her work involved a lot of the students. But the role of president means she is responsible for more partnerships. Depending on the meeting, Eilidh represents various perspectives and covers a range of topics and issues. Mostly though, and at the heart of her work, she represents the student population at GCU.
There is no doubt that Eilidh has built many memories from her position as vice president, and later president. She talks about how she has had opportunities to meet people she otherwise wouldnâ€™t have met, and visit places she otherwise wouldnâ€™t have been able to. One example she shares is having the chance to meet Annie Lennox, past chancellor of GCU. At her installation as chancellor Eilidh introduced herself but was struggling to keep her excitement back. Moses, one of the vice presidents, swooped in and saved her. This is one of Eilidhâ€™s most precious and unexpected memories as president, and she laughs at how surreal it was, 21
“For some students, their graduation day is the most important of their lives. To be on stage and share that moment is something I can’t even put into words.” It was especially the first one where Eilidh sat in for someone else that she truly felt how meaningful the university experience can be.
Her work and memories don’t end there: “The day graduation fees dropped, I cried.” Through hard work, she and her team managed to enable all graduates from 2020 to walk across the graduation stage for free. She is excited to be one of the people to do so in a year when she graduates.
“One of the best things about the job is the bond you create with everyone … No one else can quite understand what you go through as it is not like any other job.” The job can bring a lot of pressure, so it has been important for the elected team to work together and become friends. Through team building and more informal gatherings they’ve become close and made the job easier for each other. Eilidh shares, “Most of my best moments are messing about with the team.”
â€œ Yes, . o d n a c â€? I Eilidh is grateful for the confidence she has gained through the role, and the impact this has had on her personal development. She is thankful to the staff around her and students across the campuses. The staff at the university have helped her to grow and make the most of the year to perform as well as she did. As for the students, it was important to Eilidh to re-open the library garden and, rightly so, she is proud of removing the graduation fees. 24
“ Start l l a m s o g or . n i l al ” 25
Eilidh recommends other students to just go for it, to “start small or go all in.” She emphasises that no one can tell you what the right way for you is. Whether you decide to dip your toes and gradually become a more active part of the university community, or if you want to dive in towards the student president role or similar – the right way is whatever works best for you. She recommends joining societies, sports clubs and representation groups to gain insight into what impact you can have as a student. Maybe it will lead to a committee position - or maybe not. That is okay. Eilidh is at GCU for the next year and is very keen to chat with students who want to get more involved with the university, so get in touch. Go for it, because...
“In the long run, you’re always going to be grateful for it – no matter what the outcome is.” 26
Why should I read this: Breaking taboo Game design
VIDEOGAMES, STORYTELLING AND
l a i c So s e u s is
Máté Tóth Ridovics, a Hungarian Computer Games and Art Animation student at Glasgow Caledonian University, is applying the craft of storytelling to video game development to raise awareness of important social issues. 27
Máté comes from a creative background. Before beginning his university adventure he worked both as a photographer and videographer at a theatre and media art organisation with a focus on addressing social and political issues. During his seven years there he worked on projects ranging from installations, participatory theatre shows, educational programmes on racism to homelessness and more. The company’s impactful work was commended and awarded by the European Cultural Foundation in 2016. This experience sparked his interest to continue to use creative ways to talk about the difficult issues that most people ignore.
and genres affect players and how they can communicate a variety of messages. For two years, Máté has been conducting specific research into Holocaust remembrance and transgenerational trauma and realised that the narrativefocused, information-based puzzle adventure game genre could be an interesting way to explore these issues. His mission is to raise awareness of the contemporary relevance of historical traumas and shed light on the importance of politics of remembrance and mental health through a contemporary interactive audiovisual language.
Next, Máté was motivated to start a creative degree where interactive storytelling is key. He emphasises that he was and still is keen to keep learning. Throughout his years at university he has played many narrativefocused games to analyse how the different game mechanics
In his spare time, Máté has been developing the game idea and has created his first prototype. Now he is advancing the game using his dissertation to work on it and staff at the university are excited and motivating him to keep going. His game does not visualise the Holocaust in any kind of way but instead links the parents’ and grandparents’ hidden traumas to the wellbeing of the younger generation. It is not a directly educational game but a narrative game with informationbased puzzle mechanics and indirect educational layers. These features mean it is accessible and available to people who are unlikely to take interest in the issue in their daily lives.
One of Máté’s major concerns is making sure he does it right, as “it is a delicate subject and it is easy to do it the wrong way.” There are many examples of games having poor Holocaust or WWII representation with issues such as displaying the Nazi as the synonym of evil without historical contexts and inaccurate and disrespectful visual representations of fictional concentration camps. Máté shares how his game will surpass these careless errors:
game is about remembrance and the â€œ My psychological and political aspects of re-discovering and re-telling our common stories. The goal is to give a chance to the players to explore their own relationship with the partially hidden, fragmented but still present memories and consequences of the Holocaust and the political contexts where these memories needed and still need to be articulated; rather than visually interact with something that is beyond our wildest imagination.
Currently Máté is looking for funding for the game and is already in contact with UK and Hungary-based organisations about his project. On taking your product to market, he shares that “During university, we have been told many times that in order to sell our product we need to find a hook, a unique selling point.” Whilst this is true, Máté believes that looking at your own product from a commercial point of view can be counterproductive and
overwhelming for those like him who are not commerciallyminded. Instead, he recommends analysing the reasons why your project is important for you and for other people. Develop your idea taking the user’s needs into consideration and examining how your product will benefit the user. If you do this from the start, you will have a relatable and relevant story that people care about – and that is your unique selling point.
eesy and h c y ll a e t It is a r sage bu s e m d e privileg
u o y t a h w d fin t a h t o d d n like a … n a c if you
doing it e r a u o yy alyse wh er people. n a o t y r th - just t ans to o e m it t a and wh
Why should I read this: 3D Animation Go-getting Inspirational
DONâ€™T GET Agnieszka Michalska, a fourth year 3D Animation and Visualisation student who uprooted her life in Poland to study her passion at Glasgow Caledonian University, talks about how to go after what you want.
Agnieszka Michalska is undoubtedly a passionate, talented and hardworking individual, yet emphasises that a large part of her success was the experiences gained by simply asking for what she wanted. Having developed a keen interest in motion graphics as a teenager, she sought out animation studios within a reasonable distance of her home in Poland and contacted them offering her time for free. Luckily they took her up on it and she worked tirelessly as a high school student - receiving no pay - to develop a skillset she believed would lead her in the direction she wanted to go. “Honestly, that’s what let me to where I am now. There are opportunities out there - it’s up to you to find them.” From a young age Agnieszka was clearly creative with the dream to become an architect. However, due to being raised in a culture that wasn’t so encouraging of following a career in the creative industries, this wasn’t the easiest route to take in life. To study any art medium in Agnieszka’s hometown you had to go to a high school that was specifically for art. This didn’t stop her however and she worked hard to
There are opportunities out there, it â€™s up to you to find them
find her niche in the creative world. When higher education appeared on the horizon she researched the best animation courses around the globe with the vision of becoming a successful motion designer for movies. Upon discovering Glasgow Caledonian University’s 3D Animation and Visualisation course Agnieszka became curious as to what other possibilities could be ahead of her within the same field. And so she went for it. After successfully pitching the course to her father to receive approval before studying, Agnieszka uprooted her life and moved to Glasgow to start university. Graduating this year, she is currently considering a Masters
to help her achieve her goal of becoming an environment artist: a person who builds 3D environments for video games, animations and movies. Coming full circle, Agnieszka’s career goals perfectly combine her childhood love of architecture with her now vast technical knowledge of 3D animation. Studying at GCU, Agnieszka has not only had opportunities to meet new people, discover new software and skills, but also to work on projects she’d never imagined working on previously. Shortly after beginning her studies she became Head of Design at The EDIT (GCU’s student magazine), created the branding
for GCU’s Ethical Hacking Society, became a member of GCU’s Extinction Rebellion group, and even worked on the branding for the very first TEDxGlasgowCaledonianUniversity event. Her ambitious and hardworking attitude is evident in the work she’s completed not only for her course but also for her passion projects. Since moving to Glasgow in 2016, Agnieszka has thrown herself into Scottish
life by meeting new people, developing new skills and learning the culture. She spoke highly of her friends back home in Poland and was enthusiastic about how pushing through her comfort zone has brought her an exciting whirlwind of different cultures, people and perspectives. Agnieszka also commended the diversity within GCU. Studying alongside a host of nationalities, including Bulgarians, the Irish, Italians and Americans, has provided her
with opportunities to make friends worldwide, to travel to faraway places and gain new experiences. It was truly inspiring to sit with Agnieszka and hear of her varied creative experiences, how she has managed to land each project, and her continuous efforts to improve herself and develop her skillset. The team and stories at Hidden Tales can only encourage you to get out there, speak up and ask for what you want. Now itâ€™s up to you to do it - just like Agnieszka did.
Why should I read this: Sustainability Social Innovation
SUSTAINABLE FOOD IN SCOTLAND...
FOCOUDS SOENCURIT Y
Most of us enjoy eating, but MSc Social Innovation student Jenna Woods has a unique love affair with food and our relationship to it. Talking to her itâ€™s clear how enthusiastic she is and that her determination to work towards a career in sustainable food with a focus on food security for Scotland will get her there. Jenna is very open that her own relationship with food hasnâ€™t always been positive. She shares she has experienced eating disorders and mental health issues stemming from her relationship with food in the past. She hopes her work will allow her to support people facing similar issues, as well as tackling mental health issues related to not having access to any food. Based in her hometown Inverclyde, Jenna is concerned about the levels of food poverty in the area and believes the issue requires much more awareness and action. The centre of Inverclyde has been found to be the most deprived area in Scotland and research suggests that deprivation is intrinsically linked with food poverty. Speaking to a member of a food bank in Inverclyde, Jenna uncovered that food poverty and mental health are also closely connected.
At the heart of Jenna’s work is her desire to have a positive social impact on local communities and empower individuals to make sustainable food choices to improve the quality of their lives. Issues surrounding food and sustainability include food scarcity or lack of access to food, educating citizens on how to make responsible and healthy choices, and reducing food waste. Overall, however, is the goal to secure sustainable food systems in Scotland to ensure everyone has access to “healthy, nutritious, sustainably-sourced, local and in-season food.”
YOU WILL MEET LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE
Studying for her masters in Social Innovation, Jenna has managed to direct her studies towards her passion. Her undergraduate research project explored consumer behaviour related to food waste and sparked her interest in sustainable food systems. Now, for her research project for her masters, she will be exploring the barriers and enablers for people in Inverclyde when making sustainable food choices. This will involve a focus on the concept of food citizenship which involves people making choices that have a positive impact on the wider community. This includes choices that are ethical, sustainable and increase access to quality food options for everyone such as reducing waste, buying locally, buying in-season food, reducing plastic and making healthy choices.
But thatâ€™s not where Jennaâ€™s ambitions end. Alongside studying full-time for her masters, she is at the early stages of setting up her own social enterprise for Inverclyde to encourage food citizenship. She aims to achieve sustainable food security systems for the area by working on four objectives for the local community:
e t s a w d o o f f o n o Reducti e v i t i s o p f o n o i t Crea d o o f h t i w s p i h s n relatio h t l a e h l a t n e m r fo r e g n u h f o n o i t c u d
f o t n e m e g a r u o c En s e c i o h c d o o f e l b a n i a t s u s 47
put yourself out there One exciting partnership Jenna is currently pursuing is with the Scottish Food Coalition (SFC). The organisation is campaigning for Scotland to become a Good Food Nation and for the right to food to be put into Scottish law. The SFC are looking for ambassadors who believe they can make a difference within their own community. Jenna is hoping to become an ambassador “to encourage people to get behind the [right to food] bill and to tell people why it’s so important.” Having the right to food in law she believes will end the indignity of being in hunger that many people feel. She shares that lots of people feel ashamed to ask for help from food banks and so they don’t reach out. Having the right in law would ensure people know they are entitled to have access to food and that they should not feel ashamed when asking for help.
It’s clear that Jenna has big goals fuelled by her love for food and a kind heart. Her next steps are to graduate from her masters in Social Innovation and develop her social enterprise. Initially she wants to operate in her hometown Inverclyde to give back to the community where she grew up. After that, she aims to expand across Scotland to support ending hunger and food poverty by securing sustainable food systems nationwide. And after that, she hopes her love for food will “grow into a global movement and community of sustainable food.” First Scotland, then the world.
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jenna-woods Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
From the team at Hidden Tales,
THANK YOU 50