"Study in UK" @ Dharubaaruge on 14th July

Thought I'd do a little promotion of the "Study in UK" event organised by Maldivian Students' Association - UK, which as the MSA-UK website says:

"The event is a non-commercial, social gathering in a non-formal setting with students in Male' where they can talk to past and present scholars who had done atleast some of their studies in the UK."

So if you are interested in getting a little more than the commercial self-promotion by educational institutions as typically done at the various education and careers fairs, then it might be worth the time and effort to make use of this event.

UPDATE(12/07/2007): Event has been POSTPONED and WILL NOT TAKE PLACE on the 14th as initially scheduled.

MSA-UK Study in UK seminar

MSA(UK) Extraordinary General Meeting 2007

I have been tied up with the Extraordinary General Meeting 2007 gathering by the Maldivian Students' Association (UK) for the better part of the week. This annual meeting was a big success this year with about 80 members from all over UK coming together at the camp in Manchester from 30th March to 1st April. A lot of new members turned up and as always, was fun-filled and friendly. There were games of football, lava-baazee, ishaaraaiy, dhalhuvattaa, karaoke, dancing etc in addition to serious discussions on various MSA(UK) issues and projects at hand.

One of the more interesting events this year was that Sappe', of the Dhivehi Observer fame, turned up to the meeting in his capacity as an Associate Member of the association. Though news of his attendance had resulted several eye-brows from several members, Sappe' kept to expressed wishes of mingling with the students and to join in the activities. It was quite amusing to see the students (including me :-P) all gather around this Maldivian celebrity and engage in the normal sort of chat.

- Check out the EGM event news and the event photos

Project GoTeach
MSA(UK) is in the process of planning an activity this year called GoTeach. Project GoTeach, as it is lovingly called, is aimed at students utilizing their summer holidays (June-Oct) to head off to the islands and spend a week or two to take on a bunch of students and tutor them. The original plan was to help towards O'level revisions but has now been (sort of) expanded to include exam preparations, study methods etc. The project is open to all students in the UK and elsewhere and everyone is encouraged to join in on this effort. Details of the project is available at the MSA(UK) GoTeach section.

MSA(UK) is evolving this year with a lot of activities planned ahead. If you are in UK, give us a shout and join us on our next activity. If you are in the Maldives, then look out for a few interesting MSA activities later this year!

New website for Maldivian Students' Association-UK

I've been tied up past few days developing a new website for the Maldivian Students' Association-UK, as well as developing a new website Content Management System for Technova.

The new website for MSA is now online at http://www.msa-uk.org/. The website has a few more content updates to be done and is awaiting the member registration/management system to be put in place along with a few "community" tools to be also tied in.

MSA will be holding their Annual General Meeting(AGM) in London in just a few days. If you are a Maldivian student in the UK, you are welcome to pop into the MSA base anytime 22nd-24th Dec and join the activities.

MSA online presence revamped

On Maldivian Students' Association...

I got elected into the Central Committee (2006) for the Maldivian Students' Association (UK) beginning of this year. It does come with a bit of work load, especially since the MSA website comes under my care now. I am working on revamping the site soon in an concerted effort to make it more useful for prospective and current Maldivian students in the UK, after all, the website acts as the center of communication for MSA activity. I am also trying to push for changes and activities that I think will help towards making MSA a real success story.

Quite a few seem to view MSA as a redundant establishment; as just another front of influence by our beloved government. It may be or may not be the case, however, what I do know is that it is a tool that can be manipulated for achieving good. There are a lot of difficulties the students face here. Everything from getting visa to finding accommodation has obstacles and difficulties littered along the way. Students are now required to spend about 2 weeks in Colombo in order to get a student visa for entry into UK. What the government has done to alleviate this hassle is not known by many - including the Minister of Education who recently visited the UK and met the students. The lovely Minister informed us all that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been asked and hasn't responded on the matter. So, hello Mr. Foreign Ministry and hello Ms. Education: can you please get these things sorted out before the world expires? I can understand there are more pressing matters which is precisely why I understandingly said "before the world expires" - that should give ample time, I hope.

There are a lot of areas that MSA can make itself useful. For example, new students are often fresh off the sandy beaches and are parting the safety net of family and friends for the first time. Thus, as can be expected, quite a few of the students also have to battle with the differences in culture. Apart from handling the silent but nonetheless prevalent racist attitudes, students also have to digest and find a solution to having a good time with the fellow British colleagues who on routine finish up day at university and then retire to alcohol for solace. In addition to obvious culture shocks, most of the students coming have never lived alone, never cooked, never managed a budgeted life etc. A student association can definitely help in preparing and offering help to students to settling in - from buying utensils, books, clothes and other gear to hunting for food and whipping up healthy, edible concoctions. It would do great benefit to build and maintain a healthy support group for all students, new and old. I know a bit too many students who freaked out at the behest of the world separating them from their loved ones. Not all who arrive have family/friends already in the UK to call and ask for help when needed. A familiar face, a familiar story and a familiar language does seem to go a long way in offering comfort. The MSA can facilitate a lot for the experienced students too. Part-time jobs, internships, holiday work and scholarships can all be facilitated by MSA. These are little things of importance that the association can achieve and should strive to offer.

By now, a few of you would probably jump up and say "but MSA is only a tiny student body run by students - in their own time". Yes! So what?s MSA to do? Organize yearly meetings and leech money from whoever would be kind enough to spare a few cash notes to be put into the good use of arranging "bilehmeerukohlevvun" as we Maldivians are so used to back home? A glance at the MSA constitution shows many an objective proudly listed. If there is a constitution outlining a modus operandi and goals to achieve, then it should be followed otherwise the objectives might as well all be replaced by the single word "naacharangy".

Lastly, I must note an interesting development this year. The government (Maldivian of course!) has "blessed" the MSA with the responsibilities of managing 9 Rosemont Avenue- a government owned house used for Maldivian student boarding and as an MSA activity hub. There hasn?t been proper (if any at all) maintenance done over the years, leaving the house in utterly poor conditions. The house is truly in an unholy mess. I sympathize with the students living there. Of course, all of this is justified by giving out the rooms in the house at a discounted rate. However, is that enough when the house breaks several UK housing rules? It doesn't even adhere to the fire and safety regulations. Jeez! Many students have raised their concerns over the matter and as everything political everywhere, a committee was created to "investigate". The committee has now compiled a report along with a prioritized list of renovations that would hopefully make the building decently habitable. This is all fine and dandy, but the funds for renovations has to be obtained from the government. Hopefully, there will be no difficulty this time, just as the Minister promised.

Now that vented out a few (MSA) things on my mind, I must say that I hope this year will be a very productive year for the association and the student community. ;-)