One thing Iʼve learned in my one short week here is that People Make Glasgow! Voted #1 by the readers of Rough Guides as the worldʼs friendliest city, I have experienced this generous spirit at every turn. Three experiences this week deserve particular mention.
1. Glasgow Girls
My birthday was this week so I treated myself to one of my favorite things: musical theater. Through my search I found a musical called Glasgow Girls, which is based on the true story of how a Glaswegian community rallied behind seven teenagers who fought to keep their school friend and asylum-seeking family from being taken from their home and deported. Itʼs a very inspiring story. I watched the documentary before going to the show and was inspired by the strength of these young girls, the support from their school and English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, and their neighborhood who took turns keeping watch to alert asylum-seeking families when security forces were arriving. According to a BBC News report, Glasgow is one of the top five communities in the UK to take in Syrian refugees and asylum seekers relative to its population. At the theater, you could hear the pride in the applause and cheers coming from this Glaswegian audience.
2. Celtic Connections
In 2008 Glasgow was designated a UNESCO Creative City, recognized for its contribution to the field of music. Celtic Connections is testimony to this designation and is the largest winter music festival of its kind and the UKʼs premier celebration of celtic music. Over three and a half weeks, this winter festival holds 300 events, 20 venues, featuring 2,100 artists from across the globe.
The photo above is from opening night at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall featuring the Orcadian youth music project Hadhirgaan, SonDeSeu - Galician folk orchestra (the most southern member of the Celtic League) and excerpts from the Feis Rois commission, Kin & the Community. It was at this opening night where I first learned that the Scottish government designated 2018 as the Year of Young People, a global first, which provides a platform to showcase the achievements of Scotlandʼs young people. Celtic Connections extended this theme into its 2019 festival by having some of the top Celtic soloists play alongside budding young artists. More on all of this in the next blog posting. Below is a video of SonDeSeuʼs music from a 2014 concert.
3. Foundry Courtyard
So even though I had an incredible birthday celebrating it with the Glasgow Girls, I think being away from my close-knit Juneau community and Glacier Valley family hit home at the end of the week. I had a moment of forgetfulness that involved the kind folks at my dorm, Foundry Courtyard, a private hall for students attending nearby universities including University of Strathclyde, City of Glasgow College, Glasgow Caledonian College and the Royal Conservatoire of Music. Once I realized my mistake, I apologized to Layla and Bill who greet me every morning at the reception window and confessed that Iʼd been feeling a bit homesick because I usually celebrate my birthday at school, at home and with friends. Itʼs just different being so new to Glasgow. I really enjoy my flatmates - four in all - who come from Burkina Faso, Germany, India, and Scotland. We each have our own room with a bathroom, but share the kitchen space (photo above). Itʼs been a respectful and friendly living arrangement - both in my flat and the building. And I have to admit, I was more than a bit worried entering into a shared dorm space being 30 years their senior, but all was for naught. I couldnʼt have found a more convenient, affordable and welcoming place to live and recommend Foundry Courtyard in a heart beat. In fact, this is what I found waiting for me when I returned from campus that same day that I had apologized to Layla and Bill (see below). I do have a community here and yes, People Make Glasgow!
This is a personal blog, sharing my experiences living in the UK from January - June 2019 as a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching scholar. This blog is not an official site of the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State. The views expressed on this site are entirely my own and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State, or any of its partner organizations.