1.Who are you?
My name is Adrian Tejan-Jalloh, I’m 21 and a second year Philosophy, Politics and Economics student. I moved from England to Norway 16 years ago, where I grew up in a home with a Norwegian mom and Sierra Leonean dad. This has had a huge impact on me as a person, and the way I look at other individuals, cultures and communities. I also love sports, all sports. I think it’s the competition I like. Football, Squash, Swimming, Chess, it doesn’t matter, if you challenge me, I will say yes – and I will win! :)
2. What or who inspired you to run for this position?
At my first Fresher’s Fair, I remember stumbling around campus feeling a bit overwhelmed by this whole place. Out of nowhere this woman comes up to me and says: “Hi! You look lost, are you a fresher?” I don’t remember what I said, I just remember being nervous. She then asked me where I was from, and I said Norway, and funny enough she replied to me in Norwegian saying that she was too. That women was our current SU president Asha. She spoke to me for at least half an hour, and in that time introduced me to her friends and actually took her time to get to know me and welcome me. That was my first experience with our Student Union, and the first time after coming here that I felt like this was somewhere that could become home. In retrospect, that gesture definitely sparked an interest in terms of what the SU do, but probably more than anything inspired me to want to be that person for others. I want to make people feel safe and welcome here at the university, I want people to be able to call this home and I feel that the position of VP Community & Engagement is where I can achieve that.
3. Why should our students vote for you?
Ever since my first year of college I’ve been very enthusiastic about student politics, taking on roles as Leader of the Youth County Council back home and leader of the International Group within the same organisation; so, when coming to Essex I knew that I wanted to get involved somehow, and I have. At the moment I’m the Local Leader of ANSA Essex (Association for Norwegian Students Abroad), which is basically the Norwegian society here at the uni. The job description is relatively broad. Yes, we plan socials and dinners and fun, but we also have a responsibility to take care of the Norwegian community. This involves being a person people feel comfortable contacting if they’re homesick or putting them in contact with others if they need someone to talk to.
I love to see how passionate people are when it comes to both sports and societies, but also volunteering. Personally, I’ve seen this first-hand through my role as Session Leader in the Refugee Teaching Program (RTP). This is one of regular projects ran by VTeam where we 3 days a week teach English to refugees in Colchester. As Session Leader I’m responsible for all the volunteers during our sessions, making sure everyone knows where to go and when. It’s also important been very important for me as a Session Leader to recruit new volunteers and keep people engaged with the project. This has meant putting up stalls on campus and getting students involved with our project.
4. How do you plan to represent our students?
In my opinion a VP Community & Engagement should be hard-working and passionate. The different communities at this uni deserve someone that is dedicated and that actually listens to their concerns, big and small. I believe that I can be that person, and I intend to do so by being approachable. I don’t want to sit in an office any more than necessary, I want to be out and about, talk to students, engage with them and listen to them; either on Squares, STEM or the SU Bar.
Although I don't understand the experiences of all marginalised people, my understanding of marginalisation as a person of colour gives me the opportunity to passionately echo the concerns of all our communities.
5. What skills do you believe you have that will help ensure the success of the big plan next year?
I would consider myself to be a team player. This is a quality I think is important if you want to achieve anything, and especially the Big Plan. I also feel very comfortable interacting with both staff and students and when doing so, voicing my opinion. That’s an important skill, but sometimes it’s even more important to know when to shut up and listen, and as a Sabbatical Officer it’s important to listen to the students.