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Shazia’s letter from America

OBV Alumni and Conservative parliamentary candidate for Leigh*, Shazia Awan is in the USA as a guest of the American government on the international visitor programme. Here she writes exclusively for OBV about some of her experiences on this political/cultural journey.

I’m in Washington at the moment and the timing is perfect – it’s Black History Month, so the media is full of great stories covering the civil rights movement.

It’s particularly interesting for me as I’ve studied the civil rights movement during the course of my first degree.

There are so many interesting things to take in here but moments that are sticking in my mind are like standing where Barack Obama was inaugurated, being on the very steps where Dr Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln memorial in the 60’s – it’s been an incredibly enlightening trip in so many ways.

The trip will last just under a month and already a few days in has been intensely busy but in a good way. Highlights include meeting with some of Obama’s team, meetings at the Pentagon and Department of state, it’s all giving me much to think about in particular the interfaith element has made me to look at how I can do things differently when I come back home to the UK.

We had panel discussions, meetings, talks with political advisers, religious leaders NGOs to name but a few and what is consistent is that the Americans pride themselves on the fact immigration is what has culturally enriched their country. A far cry from how many see the same in the UK; perhaps it is this acceptance and give and take attitude which brings unity.

Although it was difficult to know what to expect before I came here what the trip would involve etc I realise what a huge blessing it is to actually be here and be meeting with all the wonderful people who really are striving to make lasting and tangible changes, I have already learned so much in just this short time.

* Leigh is in Greater Manchester

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