Nelson Mandela Anti-Racism Week took place from the 20 to the 24 March to mark the twenty year anniversary of Nelson Mandela being awarded an honorary degree from the University of Galway.
To mark the inaugural Nelson Mandela Anti-Racism Week, the Office of the Vice President for Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion awarded funding to 11 projects as part of the annual Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Project Fund.
Twenty different events occurred over the week to allow people to learn and explore a wide range of cultures, races and ethnicities and start conversations about anti-racism.
Vice president for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Galway, Dr Helen Maher said: “It’s important to note that this is the first week of its kind in terms of the University of Galway.
“We had a particular emphasis on commemorating and remembering the awarding of the honorary doctorate to Nelson Mandela.”
One of the events that took place was ‘Experience Africa’ organised by Vusi Thabethe and Thembela Lubimbi.
This event contained a gallery exhibition, afro food celebration and music and dance.
This event was made to celebrate African culture and allow visitors to meet with people from different African countries and learn all about their culture.
There were examples of traditional African garments and headdresses, which people could be shown how to wear in the traditional way.
Speaking about the event, Vusi Thabethe said: “We received some very positive feedback. It was very uplifting and it was good to share some of our unknown facts about our culture.
“In the future we are hoping to host another one next year if we are allowed to, and hopefully we can continue on this great initiative.”
One of the events that took place was ‘Experiencing Direct Provision through the eyes of University of Galway Students (Virtual Reality Experience),’ organised by Eileen Kennedy.
This virtual reality experience showed a short documentary about a day in the life of two University of Galway students who live in a Direct Provision Centre.
Through the VR headset, it allows you to have a 360-degree view to look around while watching the day in the life documentary of the students.
Another event which took place throughout the week was the ‘Whist A Thary: Traveller and Roma Film Festival,’ which showcased films that contained authentic and celebratory representations of the Traveller and Roma communities.
This four-day film festival sought to engage the University and the general public in a discussion on how different ethnicities can be shown and celebrated in and through media.
The University also hosted the first national HEA conference on Race Equality in Higher Education on 20 March to highlight the structural, institutional, and historical dimensions of racism which informed past and current practices in HEIs and the societies in which they are situated.
There were also a number of talks for the duration of the week about diversity and inclusion and race equality training for staff.