Bradford College student, Firdos Hussain, was recently invited to meet the UK’s top United States diplomat to discuss a sponsored visit to America later this May. Firdos will be jetting off to America with other professional women working in education, health and the voluntary sector who have made a difference.
As well as studying on the Social and Community Care Foundation Degree course, Firdos also works part-time as a Community Development Worker at the West Bowling Community Advice & Training Centre where the meeting with the diplomat was held.
During his trip to Bradford, Richard LeBaron, interim Charge d’Affaires at the American Embassy in London, met Firdos to discuss the forthcoming trip to America. The trip has been sponsored by the US Department of State in a bid to share knowledge and good practice.
Lecturer, Tony Gill commenting on the trip to America said: “I think it’s fantastic… I think it’s great. It just goes to show what can be achieved if people are given the opportunity to succeed. Firdos has put a lot of effort into helping others within the community and now she’s starting to reap the rewards. It just goes to show what you can do if you come back into education and work really hard.”
Speaking about the positive impact the course has had on her work as a Community Development Officer, Firdos said: “The course has helped me in terms of confidence. Its given me the self belief and values to perform effectively within my role, which has allowed me to make a difference to the community.”
Explaining how the trip to America came about and why she has been selected, Firdos said: “I’ve been chosen because I do a lot of community work through my work base, which is West Bowling Community Advice & Training Centre. The centre is the lead body actually organising and co-ordinating the trip.”
During the visit, Firdos aims to learn more about the rich cultural diversity of the United States and their successful models for integration. Firdos remarked: “We also want to go over to America to educate people about life in Bradford and what it’s really like. What’s more it’s the first time Muslim women have been able to go over to America because it’s a women’s only trip. It’s a massive opportunity to speak out about what life is really like in the UK and to share those experiences with people in American. It gives people the chance to hear it from us, rather than just from the media’s perspective.”
Firdos explained that the diplomat, Richard LeBaron was full of misconceptions about the city before he visited Bradford. Firdos said: “When he heard he was coming to Bradford he thought to himself ‘Oh dear, what is going to happen to me’. He’d heard negative reports about Bradford in the press so he was full of trepidation about the visit. When he arrived he was delighted to discover that Bradford was a wonderful city, with a lot to offer. He told the group that he enjoyed the experience so much that he planned to return, bringing his family with him.”
Diplomat, Richard LeBaron also met with the other women selected to go on the trip, all professional women who have made a difference. Firdos said: “They’re all positive role models for ethnic minorities who have risen through the ranks, through their life experiences and though education.”
Firdos also intends to learn more about US public and private sector programmes aimed at revitalising communities. Firdos continued: “We’re looking forward to sharing experiences and ideas. We plan to look at strategies and policies to see if people can really make a difference if they channel their views in the political limelight.”
Firdos concluded: “As an ambassador for the College – and an ambassador for Bradford, I want to help build and strengthen our relationship with our associates in American on a long term basis and set up a platform for women to be able to come here from America and experience life in Bradford.”