Ellie Philpotts headed along to some Cardiff Student Action for Refugees (STAR) events to see what good they’re whipping up in the local community.
It probably hasn’t escaped your notice that Cardiff is a seriously welcoming place to live. The diversity of city living is clear to see, as it seems like on every corner you’ll always be greeted with a friendly face and the choice of either a cup of tea / shish kebab / bara brith / kimchi stew / proper Italian wood-fired pizza. Or all five of them if you feel like it. At the same time. Because why not.
Demonstrating the best of this is a team of Cardiff University students, who go by the name of STAR (Student Action for Refugees).
Student Action for Refugees is a national network spanning across 35 British universities. Everyone there is motivated by the common goal of helping to improve the lives of refugees and asylum seekers, by teaching them English, maths and other skills at weekly classes; fundraising and basically having a grand old time.
Speaking of which, there are plenty of ways to get involved, and you totally should. A recent way this was made possible was Peace Feast. The annual event sees members from all over the community gather together; eating a home-cooked meal or two and celebrating the role refugees and asylum seekers bring to the area. This year, it came to town on Sunday 21 Feb at Cathays Community Centre. Since 2012, the day has remained a success, and this year was no different. Working alongside Bridges for Communities, an organisation passionate at swapping negative stereotypes in favour of forming friendships between cultures, Peace Feast got everyone talking and sharing experiences, over the universally-enjoyed medium of good food.
As good as Peace Feast was, it wasn’t the biggest event of STAR’s calendar – an honour which can surely only go to Refugee Rhythms.
Once again, Refugee Rhythms made a storm in the Students’ Union on Thursday 25 Feb. Again following its triumph from previous years, all of STAR’s volunteers put in the hours to ensure the smooth running what could only be called the best cultural celebration in all of Cardiff. Featuring a global array of cuisine, music and talent, it appears everyone came away wanting to take up some new instrument, even if you’re slightly tone-death, aka me.
Local groups Afro Cluster, who specialise in an afro-funk hip-hop feel, and Bass 12, who describe themselves as ‘a riot jazz style band’, stole the show, but a whole host of other musicians (many of whom double up as students by day…) were found gracing the stage.
If dancing off your food baby of hummus and falafel is your type of exercise, you were probably found at this week’s Refugee Rhythms. But if you couldn’t make it, remember there’ll be plenty of opportunities to give back to the local community. Like many cities, Cardiff thrives on its diversity, and that’s the way volunteers at STAR, plus a lot of others, want it to stay. Check out the Cardiff STAR website for more reiteration of how easy yet rewarding helping refugees is.
Ellie Philpotts is our writer on the ground in central Cardiff. Telling it like it is!
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