The International 16

International 16 is an International Society project that each year brings together a diverse group of 16 Greater Manchester students from 16 different countries. We meet every week during term time and learn about each other’s lives by sharing our stories. The group provides an inspired and creative space for promoting international peace and friendship, celebrating cultural diversity and connecting people around the world.

Each year, the International Society runs two International 16 groups, one in Manchester and one in Salford. For the last four years I’ve lead the Salford International 16 group with my partner, Sam, founder of the project. As I celebrate my fifth year as co-captain, I’ve realised it’s the right time to share the #Salford16, since I already write about elements that are at the project’s core: creativity, fear, the unknown, and courage. As I write about our experiences with the #Salford16 this year, interwoven with my posts sharing life in writing, it is my hope to try and capture in words some of the joy, love, stories, and ways in which this wonderful and important project changes lives.

The way our #Salford16 year together works looks something like this:

4804846_orig

5497335_orig

6554159_orig

6667363_orig

9752328_orig

9969626_orig

1415974501

3394542

1415971721 3358085

As for what it’s like to actually be a member of the group rather than one of its leaders, my words are of no use. I can’t describe the experience, so I’ll leave it to someone who can:

It might look like fun and games to an outsider. But we know that it actually requires tremendous commitment. Not just from 1 or 2 persons, but from all.

Then why does it feel effortless in relation to other things like exams or assignments?

Maybe it is because what we got out of this experience is worth so much more. We learn so much from each other through our activities, our trip, and our individual presentations. What makes the 16 so unique is that it is not merely international students talking about their countries, presenting touristy information and what not. It is about our lives and where we fondly, proudly call home. As I see other places I’ve never been [through our presentations], not only are my eyes open to new scenes, [I also] reflect on what I haven’t thought of before about my own home. I’m sure some, if not all of [us] have the same feeling. It is nothing you can find anywhere else.

We are more than just friends. We are each other’s family away from family. We are each other’s home away from home.

I never thought I would be in this incredible group made of these amazing people. I feel honoured and privileged to be a part of it. 8 months is not nearly enough time sharing with all of you. So let me say…

Thank you with so much love. This might be our last gathering but this is not the end. The capacity of human heart is far larger than what science considers it to be. You all will always have a place in mine and I hope I have a place in yours.
– Poly, International 16 member, Thailand, 2011-2012

Now in its fifth year at the University of Salford, this is the first ‘official’ photo of our 2014-15 #Salford16.

8908584_orig

2694227


Tomorrow morning we take off in a mini-bus, transit van, and car on our #Salford16 weekend road trip to a magical otherworld in the Welsh countryside. No matter how joyous the journey or stunning the scenery, I won’t be fooled – the deepest wonder that awaits us is what will happen right in front of us and between us. The experience this group will share with each other this weekend and in the coming year is one they will remember forever. This sums up the International 16: four weeks since our first meeting, the group already counts down to seeing each other for our weekly meetings. I have to consciously remind myself that only a month ago they were strangers. For now, Wales. Land of the red dragon, here we come!

Submit a comment