Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Last Sunday Frankie Sena from London Met STAR ran for 26 miles through the streets of London with an important message: ‘Refugees Welcome Here!’ Here she talks about her experience of running the London Marathon, and what motivated her to fundraise for STAR.
Inspired by Frankie’s story? Sponsor her now and help thousands of other STARs across Britain keep supporting refugees!
So Frankie, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Well I’m just coming to the end of my final year studying International Relations and Peace and Conflict Studies with Arabic at London Met. My course pretty much sums me up! Since I was little I have been so intrigued by the world, I love learning languages and travelling and visiting other countries is a massive part of my life. When I graduate, my plan is to work for a while to be able to fund a year-long placement abroad, as an intern or volunteer. Hopefully this will get my foot in the door with an international organisation that works with refugees or victims of trafficking. Human, arms and drugs trafficking is a particular area I would like to work in as it is a global problem we cannot escape from and have a responsibility to put an end to.
When did you first hear about STAR and what inspired you to get involved?
I heard about STAR almost three years ago just before starting at London Met when I met Emma Williams. She told me that there were plans for starting a STAR group at London Met so together with a current student Lamine we created the group. I was inspired by the fact that so many students across the country were not only taking such an interest in the lives of refugees in the UK, but were actively involved in campaigns and improving the communities close to them. Immigration is always a hot topic but people in this country are still so ignorant to the real issues surrounding asylum. I realised how little I knew when I attended my first STAR National conference!
So can you tell us about something you have been involved with through the London Met STAR group?
An event that will stay with me forever is the London Sleepout 2012 with the London STAR groups. Even though we were a lot less people then the year before, I feel like this year was an even greater success. Firstly on a personal level, I felt a lot more confident in myself and in my place at STAR and my awareness of the issues. But then in terms of the campaign, Still Human Still Here, everybody was 100% involved with the quizzes and speaking to the public, it felt like we covered more ground and had an impact on a lot of people that night.
What are your best memories of your time with STAR?
There are lots of moments from our conversation club and from the conferences I have attended and of course the Sleepouts which I always think about, but my best memory was the STAR party after the National Conference in 2011 that I organised with Theresa. Just because it made me so happy to be so involved with organising something with STAR, it seemed like everyone enjoyed themselves, I definitely did! And getting to know other STARs is always amazing!
What can students do to support refugees in the UK, and in London in particular?
I can’t stress enough how just knowing some simple facts and truths can make such a difference. Especially in terms of awkward conversations about ‘immigration’ and ‘policies’ etc. if one person is able to say “Actually hang on, that’s not the case…” it can have a huge impact on what a number of people thought they knew. In terms of supporting refugees I still believe ignorance is the biggest issue! Also students always have time, time that can be spent even just a few hours a week doing something to improve the community, and why shouldn’t that be refugee projects? I think we all owe something to our communities.
You recently ran a marathon for STAR! What motivated you to fundraise for the STAR network?
The money fundraised from the marathon is for the benefit of all students in the STAR network, and most importantly for the people living in this country we are involved in trying to help. My personal motivation to fundraise in this way was as a massive gesture for STAR on behalf of London Met. Compared to other STAR groups our activities probably haven’t affected as many people, but hopefully this will be something that London Met STAR in the future can take inspiration from and be proud of.
Can you tell us a bit about your marathon experience? Do you have any advice for other ‘sporty STARs’?
Without a doubt it has been an insane journey, but I do like to set myself ridiculous challenges! I couldn’t have been more prepared for the day, so for that I am very happy with myself for, but nonetheless I had absolutely no idea that it was going to like that! Spectators in London were an absolute dream, they were amazing, and seeing my friends at various points along the ways was incredible too, as well as Emily and Ellen at Mile 20 when I had definitely hit my wall! My advice for any sporty STARs would be to not hesitate in getting involved in a challenge that you know you will remember forever. The most important thing is to know why you are doing it; if you do something for yourself as an own personal achievement AND for a charity that you really care about then it’s the most rewarding experience you will ever have!
Posted by STAR team on 24/04/2012 at 11:12 AM