From plays to novels to poetry, English literature is the thread which sews together many of our life’s experiences. I have always been fascinated by words; their power to make us laugh, cry and change our outlook on the world we live in.
Before enrolling at NewVIc, my year 11 English teacher at Forest Gate Community School gave me a poem called Invictus by William Ernest Henley and asked me to focus on the last two lines:
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul
Those lines helped me to understand that our ambitions and success lie in our hands. I left secondary school determined to fulfil all the goals I had set myself. One of those goals was to be more confident in my writing; thus I joined NewVIc’s creative writing group where I was able to meet other people who had similar interests to me. Contributing to a college based youth magazine meant I could receive honest and helpful feedback and gain inspiration for my writing. I carried on my passion for writing at university at King’s College London (KCL) where I joined the creative writing society. This year we are working on new and exciting projects including publishing our own anthology.
NewVIc is a warm, uplifting and inviting college that helped me realise my true potential. Although I had always loved English, I hadn’t expected to be confident enough to pursue it at degree level. However, my NewVIc teachers such as Sue Landeryou were always supportive of me and encouraged me to continue. Sue also supervised my Extended Project where I explored female representation in Disney films and books. This was a great opportunity for me to become more independent as I had to carry out research, record findings, and plan every stage of a substantial research project.
Being on NewVIc’s Honours programme meant we were able to experience university seminars and discussions and this proved to be very helpful once I started at King’s College as I was able to express my views more confidently without feeling intimidated.
I am now in my second year studying English language and literature at KCL. Undoubtedly, the first couple of weeks at university were daunting. A new place, new people and, of course, a whole lot of new books to read. University is often said to be a time when we find out who we really are and what path we want to take in life. A lot of this is decided amidst the chaos of Freshers’ month. The Freshers’ Fair brought me face to face with all the strange and wonderful societies you can join, from the cheese-eating society to the very welcoming Bangladesh society. I knew I would be unlikely to stay committed to all of the clubs I joined throughout the year, but getting involved is the best way to get to know new people. After attending the Bangladesh Society’s Fresher’s dinner I knew that this would be a lasting commitment and I have taken part in a wide range of outreach projects with them since I joined.
Two of my favourite projects were: visiting the elderly in their care homes and delivering workshops for young people in local secondary schools. This year, I am planning an event on the topic of Shadism; an internalized form of racism which discriminates between individuals based on skin tone. Unfortunately, this is common in many of the South Asian, Hispanic and African communities. Thus, I plan to address this issue to help create more awareness of this subject. There will be speakers as well as spoken word artists who will be expressing their thoughts touching on colonialism and how this has led many individuals to desire to be lighter skinned.
I started at NewVIc as someone who was reluctant to leave my comfort zone and left as someone who openly welcomes change. The words of Rabindranath Tagore come to mind:
Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them.
Nazia Sultana – NewVIc class of 2014
Read more guest blogs in the My NewVIc story series here