Students and staff at the University of Sheffield and its Students’ Union are showing friendship has no barriers in a unique international selfie campaign.
Today marks the launch of the student-led, global #standbyme project in celebration of the value and contribution of international staff and students to all UK universities.
The idea is that two friends of different nationalities take a selfie and upload it to a huge online collection to demonstrate the tremendous number of international friendships within the University community and beyond.
Friends will also submit a short description of their relationship explaining their nationalities, how they first met, and how long they have been friends.
Ally Buckle, President of the Students’ Union, said: “Over the past few months Students’ Union sabbatical officers and University staff have been working hard to tell the Government that we love our international students, and do not like the anti-migrant talk and policy that is coming from Parliament.
“We’ve petitioned, sent letters and met MPs and Lords; but it’s time to get creative if we want to win over hearts and minds as well as influence policy.
“It’s time to get out our secret weapon: the selfie.
“If you have a friend from another country, and you care about protecting their right to be here, then we want you to send us a selfie with them, accompanied by a short explanation of your friendship.
“We will use these in a campaign that will tell the politicians that for every international student or staff member that they undervalue, there is a UK friend that is willing to fight their corner.”
The launch of the campaign coincides with World Week 2014 (22 February – 2 March 2014) which aims to promote integration, inclusion and the spread of culture. The event will be marked with a huge selection of activities and events on campus including Piñata making, an international pub quiz, a treasure hunt, Chinese name workshop and Latin American and ballroom dancing.
Professor Elena Rodriguez-Falcon, Professor of Enterprise and Engineering Education, said: “I came to this country 17 years ago. I am proudly Mexican born and since 2007 have been humbly British adopted.
“The selfie campaign is another amazing combined effort from the University of Sheffield and Students’ Union which shows that international students and staff are not only crucial to this country’s economy and growth but they help to add cultural value and long lasting friendships which make this country and the rest of the world a better place. I don’t know what I would do without my British friends, who I consider my family.”
She added: ‘It is also so important that this campaign is led by students who not only learn from lectures and text books but from the friendships they make with their peers from all over the world. At a time when so much of the world is divided, they remind us that our real hope and security lies in building genuine understanding and friendships across national boundaries.”
The Photography Society at the University of Sheffield has set up a photo station where friends can go to capture their selfies throughout World Week. Everyone will get a free copy of their photograph as well as a slice of cake.
The University is calling for students, staff and alumni from institutions across the world to join in the campaign and show their support by uploading their own selfie with a friend they met of a different nationality during their time at university.
To upload your own selfie email firstname.lastname@example.org and don’t forget to share it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #standbyme.
The pictures used on campus may even be taken to the Houses of Parliament.
#standbyme is part of the University’s We Are International Campaign launched last year which is now supported by more than 50 universities and organisations. For more information visit https://www.weareinternational.org.uk