TogetherintheUK

A Story-Telling 

Competition!

The TogetherintheUK’s Story-Telling Competition has now closed!

No further submissions will be accepted at this time

 

Thank you to those who have entered. We will keep the voting panel open for a further two weeks before selecting the winning shortlisted entries which will be presented to the judges.

You can still vote for your favourite stories, poems and essays for the next two weeks until Sunday, 16th May,  after which we shall close voting and shortlist the entries to be submitted to the judges to select our final winners in the various categories on the 8th July 2021. Good Luck all!

Please do read up on the judges below the submissions

A 'Czeched' in ticket to the UK

by Karolina

I was born in the Czech Republic which is also where I lived for about 10 years before we moved to England and my whole life went downhill kind of in a good way like a really good drop on a rollercoaster although at the time I wasn’t very happy about is as all I was focusing on was the sheer panic of such a big change.

In the summer of 2013 my brother and I went on a summer camp. It lasted 2 weeks and every morning we were taught English and the rest of the day we had a brand new group activity that added up to a camp competition. I vividly remember sitting in our car on the way back home. I was still very excited about the events of the last few days. Our team ended up winning the competition and I happened to be the one to complete the last task we needed to secure our victory. On top of that, I got excellent feedback from the English teachers. Looking back, I remember that my English was relatively decent compared to the average 10-year-old in the Czech Republic but the idea of moving to England was something that wouldn’t even cross my mind. I mean I could barely have a conversation let alone have all my lessons or ask for assistance in a shop all in English. As I sat there in the car, my smile slowly turned to tears as my mum explained all the upsides to moving away from our family, our school, my friends and generally what I considered as a very successful social life when I was 10. I think the thing that stopped me from completely going out of my mind was my mum’s reassurance that it’ll be just for one year and then we’ll go back (except that wasn’t true but more on that later).

So, a few months later we packed some of our belongings and on the 8th October 2013 we flew to the UK (I’m pretty sure we flew to London Luton airport – not that that’s relevant in any way). At the time my Aunt had lived in Oxford for a few years now so that was our destination. We lived with her for a bit before we moved in with a family that rented us two rooms.

Within about a month we were all settled into our new home and despite being utterly terrified, I was going to school for the first time. My mum walked me to school and we talked to the head teacher. Even though I introduced myself with the Czech pronunciation of my name (the way everybody said my name my whole life) she asked how to pronounce it and only gave two options for the answer; the British versions of the name. That was quite daunting. My life just turned upside down and now my name is changing too? But I just figured it’s better than everybody struggling with saying my name. When I first entered the classroom, the first question was what my name was. I automatically said my name (my actual name) I was really anxious and wasn’t really thinking, however, nobody really seemed to have an issue with it so I thought “Well that’s convenient!” and moved on. Later on we had an assembly and the head teacher was making announcements, one of which was that there were two new students in school (me and a younger boy). When she pronounced my name wrong, a lot of the people from my class shouted my actual name in correction so since then that’s the name I use and nobody seems to have too much trouble with it.

When lessons started, I had absolutely no clue what was going on. Now, when I have trouble with school work I like to use the phrase “might as well be in a foreign language.” The reason I love saying that is because there was a time when all my school work actually was in a foreign language and I still remember how challenging and perplexing that was. (I also like saying “might as well be written in Greek” when referring to maths or chemistry as both of those subjects often use letters of the Greek alphabet such as pi or delta). The first week I carried around a piece of paper with “I don’t understand” written phonetically on it because that was still a bit too advanced for me and I kept forgetting how to say it. The only subject I slightly understood was maths. 6x3 equals 18 in any language. Plus I was good at it. The maths level we were at in the Czech Republic was higher than here so for me it was just a refresher of the basics but even when we started learning new stuff I still enjoyed it so I put an effort into it.

Now we have been in the UK for about seven and a half years which is considerably longer than 1 year but I’m happy (well, I’m a depressed A level student having to deal with the mess of covid so I’m not happy in general but what I mean is I’m happy with the decision to move to England even though I didn’t seem to have much say in it). I now prefer English to Czech and my primary school love of maths fuelled by its international aspect turned into a passion. I have a got a conditional offer to study maths at Warwick University and provided everything goes well, I would like to get a PhD in mathematics and work in research so I got a pretty exciting (well, exciting to me) job aspirations out of this. Not to mention all the amazing friends that I have here in England without whom I probably wouldn’t have made it through 7 years away from my family or through a fairly difficult time in my life when I got depression.  

Karolina

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Meet the Judges

Sunder Katwala

Director, British Future
https://www.britishfuture.org/

Sunder is the Director of British Future, a thinktank with a particular interest in migration. His career includes working as a Commissioning Editor at MacMillan, he has worked as a journalist and leader writer for the Observer. His parents came to the UK from Ireland and India to work for the NHS. TogetherintheUK is very pleased that Sunder has agreed to be a judge as someone who will be able to judge what works on a literary level and who has a deep understanding of migration.

Sunder says, ‘Sharing and hearing personal stories can often be the most effective way to build empathy and understanding, so I very much look forward to seeing what the competition brings’.

Nazek Ramadan

Founder and Executive Director
www.migrantvoice.org

Nazek started Migrant Voice ten years ago when she identified that migrants were scapegoated and talked about and that migrants needed to speak out and be part of that debate taking place about them without them.  Migrant Voice is a campaigning organisation speaking out on issues of injustice and working to strengthen different communities.  Nazek is originally from Lebanon so understands migration very well both from her own personal experience and as a campaigner.  TogetherintheUK is very pleased that Nazek has agreed to be a judge on the Creative Writing competition as someone whose organisation has just published a fantastic ebook, celebrating Black History in the West Midlands and someone with deep insight into migration.  Nazek has kindly donated a place on her Media Lab programme to one lucky winner.  

Nazek says, ‘ Migrant Voice has led on lots of different campaigns over the years, all geared to developing migrant voices sometimes through arts and poetry, through engaging with the media or through images.   Its therefore obvious to me that I would want to encourage more voices, more creativity so of course, I want to be a judge on the TogetherinthUK competition.’

Lord Dubs

Member of the House of Lords
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alf_Dubs,_Baron_Dubs

Lord Dubs came to Britain from Czechoslovakia in 1939 on the Kindertransport. He is a Labour politician having spent many years as the Labour MP for Battersea and he is now in the House of Lords.

Lord Dubs says ‘I am delighted to be a judge for TogetherintheUk’s creative writing competition 2020. I know from my own experience how disorientating it can be to arrive in a new country and I think it is fabulous that the competition will give migrant children the chance to write about their own experiences. This is an opportunity for children to tell your own stories about what it was like for them and what helped them get through this challenging time. I am really looking forward to the difficult task of choosing the best poem or story and seeing all entries published by TogetherintheUK’.

Tyrone Roach

Public Relations  Officer of the NCBA
https://www.nationnews.com/

Tyrone Roach is the Public Relations  Officer of the NCBA – National Council of Barbadian Associations UK, an umbrella group for Barbadian Association in the United Kingdom. Where he has previously served as Chairman; He is also Chairperson of the Barbados Overseas Community Friends Association

Presently he is UK correspondent for the Barbados Nation Newspaper, a publication he has written for periodically over ten years, with responsibility for UK content, Editorial, advertising and Distribution  – Online and in print

He has been responsible for several large events in the Barbadian community in England, where he worked closely with the  Barbados High Commission. Events include the Independence Panel discussion, Barbados Forward Thinkers – Youth Seminar,  A lil bit of Bim and the Barbados day event in Ipswich, both EXPO of Caribbean culture and products

His experience of working with connecting migrants from the Caribbean to the UK with their country of origin has given him a depth of knowledge of the challenges and joys of migration, plus, of course, he knows good writing. Hopefully!

Tyrone says, ‘ I am looking forward to seeing the creativity in the under 18 category I know that these young people will have their own, unique perspectives – and this will enable me to see how society has changed significantly over the last year’.

Johnathan Portes

Professor of Economics and Public Policy
King’s College
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Portes

Jonathan is a Professor of Economics and Public Policy at King’s College, London. His current research is on labour mobility both within and outside the European Union. He is a much published author both of academic books and articles in the press. He is well qualified to act as a judge in the TogetherintheUK creative writing competition as someone who has lived in both the USA and the UK and whose many talents include synthesizing complex topics like migration into something easily understood by most of us.

Jonathan says ‘I am continually fascinated by how and why people migrate and their experiences so I am very much looking forward to reading the entries and I am sure that I will be inspired by what people write’.

David Marshall

CEO and Founder
Marshall’s Elearning
https://marshallelearning.com/

David Marshall founded Marshalls Elearning Consultancy in 2002. It specialises in diversity bringing together technology with experts in diversity. Marshalls provides all kinds of creative products to the market, all of which are designed to help organisations become more inclusive and diverse – constantly developing the ability to listen to different voices. David has very generously donated a Chromebook as the Marshall’s prize.

David says, ‘I am a sponsor of TogetherintheUK’s work as I love how they find different stories from different people, I have learnt so much from reading them about how people arrive in the UK and what works for them in building their lives here. I was delighted to be asked to be a judge on the competition as I want to know more’.

Consuelo Rivera-Fuentes

Publisher
Victorina Press
https://www.victorinapress.com

Consuelo is the publisher of the Victorina Press,  she is a writer of poetry and short stories both in Spanish and English.  She is Chilean/British and an academic and a publisher.  She came to the UK in 1992 and before leaving Chile, she was an active political campaigner against the regime of General Pinochet.  The mission of Victorina Press is to publish ‘inspirational books’.   TogetherintheUK is delighted that Consuelo has agreed to be judge, as someone with personal experience of migration, a publisher and an author. 

Consuelo says, ‘I love poetry and I love to read original work so I am very much looking forward to the creativity that I am sure will pour out of people when they sit down to write their entries’.