A Big Welcome to our New OSCH Manchester Museum Young Interns

Manchester Museum

Our Shared Cultural Heritage (OSCH) sets out to support young people and the heritage sector in making heritage more useful and more relevant to the lives and communities of young people of South Asian diaspora. OSCH is part of the wider Kick the Dust programme which tackles the under-representation of the young as audiences and participants in heritage spaces. If you are a regular reader of our blog, and follow us on Twitter and on Instagram, you will follow all we’ve been doing since May 2019 to make heritage spaces more inclusive for young people.

One of our key aims is to provide as many paid opportunities as possible for young people to change the heritage sector. In Summer 2020, we hired three brilliant paid interns, and now in December 2020, we’ve hired three more young people who impressed us with their application and interview. The six young people are now working as dynamic and exciting team of changemakers.

Read more about our Summer 2020 interns – here.

What follows are the words of our latest interns – Hannah, Samihah and Rissat – who kindly share with us a little about themselves, their passion for exploring cultural heritage and their plans as interns:

Hannah Rustomjee

Hannah Rustomjee – Community Producer

Hannah Rustomjee: “When I applied for this position I was asked what heritage and community meant to me. I found this incredibly hard to answer as I’ve always struggled to talk about my own identity. Getting involved with South Asian Heritage at the Manchester Museum has made me reckon with my own complex heritage, as an individual with South African-Indian, Parsi and Spanish roots. I think my experience of being unable to tick a box has shaped my interest for representation, belonging, identity and heritage; and I am hoping that this experience will teach me more about myself and my own South Asian heritage, whilst also giving me the opportunity to share and reflect on my experiences with like-minded others.

2020 has seen the twin challenges of COVID-19 and the ongoing effects of the global movement for Black Lives, intensifying the conversation around Britain’s history of colonialism, and its after effects. This is a really important time for museums to acknowledge their responsibility and serve the diverse localities in which they are situated. Young people can have a big role in transforming the design and legacy of museums and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this. Britain’s past weighs on our present, and learning about it would mean a better debate about race and migration.

I urge all young people who are curious about the narrative being told in museums to join the Manchester Our Shared Cultural Heritage Project, which gives young people the chance to come together to explore the shared cultural heritage of the UK and South Asia and to develop new methods for museums to engage with people.”

Samihah Mudabbir

Samihah Mudabbir – Community Storyteller

Samihah Mudabbir: “Studying History and Sociology has intrigued my interest in learning about my historical roots and their effects on the socio-political the climate of today. However, I guess it was both my love and hate for these two subjects which pushed me further into exploring my identity. My hate stemmed from the curriculum’s erasure of South Asian culture, heritage, and its histories and the repetitive narratives we were taught. Moreover, my frustration for these subjects had progressed due to many teachers constantly promoting their ideas of ‘Britishness’ through their actions and teachings.

However, these subjects have allowed me to always be critical and have pushed me further to explore the unwritten tales which constantly affects the lives of South Asians. Therefore, my new role as a Community Storyteller is a remarkable experience and one which allows me to have an integral role in sharing diverse histories and advocating for change. I am looking forward to promoting stories of the South Asian community – however big or small the stories may seem to be.

My involvement already with the OSCH Young People’s Collective has allowed me to explore my identity and history. I’ve took part in many activities including conducting webinars on Mughal History and working on the new South Asia gallery, where I am specifically exploring the colonial legacy of climate change and Bangladesh’s resistance. Working and learning with OSCH has erased many of my frustrations when learning the histories of South Asia. And whilst it is important to remain critical of the power that continues to dominate in museum spaces, I find it integral to be a part of the change and resistance that OSCH brings – as a collective constantly challenging the way in which museums operate.

Whilst we have all experienced the distresses of lockdown and the lack of real-life interaction, the projects that this role entails combined with the work of OSCH has and will allow many people, including myself to reflect and gain the confidence to share their stories online. This role is encouraging me to discover innovative ways to engage young people in sharing their stories that hold historical and cultural purpose. It’s a massive opportunity to showcase voices of the underrepresented, to culturally inspire my generation, and to fight for change”.

Rissat Hasan

Rissat Hasan – Community Storyteller

Rissat Hasan: “Growing up in a predominantly White town and attending a predominantly White school often made me feel estranged from the ‘Bangladeshi’ part of my ‘British-Bangladeshi’ identity. My heritage has always been deeply rooted in my mother tongue ‘Bengali’, a language fought for by my ancestors and subsequently preserved by the nation’s independence through the Bangladesh Liberation War. Yet the ‘British’ side of my heritage exposed the broken Bengali that often slips from my tongue. It grouped me alongside my South-Asian counterparts due to my classmates and teachers throughout school being unable to differentiate between a young person as being ‘Pakistani’, being ‘Indian’ and being ‘Bangladeshi’. Aside from knowing the language, could I even differentiate myself? Those who did ask about my origins, often did not know what/where Bangladesh was, let alone able to find it on a map.

After sixteen years of studying, my final years of education at university presented an opportunity whereby the roots of my own history and identity could be researched and written about. Whilst I was elated to be learning about the women of the Liberation War and guided by an academic advisor who was also of a South-Asian heritage, I often found myself questioning why it took so long for me to feel represented. Studying History at university became an act of cherishing the excerpts of decolonised curriculum available, yet still feeling a sense of imposter syndrome in a class tailored to me and about me. As one of the very few PoC on my course, my existence became a means of disrupting hegemonic, Eurocentric narratives and taking up predominantly white spaces, as well as sharing the histories of the lesser known and those not represented at all.

Therefore, my motivations for working at Manchester Museum as a ‘Community Storyteller’ has granted me the opportunity to continue sharing the experiences of those from marginalised communities, understand why they are often misrepresented and be part of the solution. It is realising that (in actor Riz Ahmed’s words) being an ‘outsider’, caught between two or more things, such as my “British” and “Bangladeshi” heritage, is not necessarily bad. For being an outsider in an environment where belonging seems like a distant prospect is where the most impact can be made. Environments such as museums and schools where “British” heritage is often emulated can transform the ‘outsider’ into an ‘insider’ by interrogating existing narratives which often serve to undermine the influence of South-Asian communities”.

Great things to come…

Follow us on our social media channels to keep up to date with the exciting activities and campaigns that all six of our young interns are cooking up for you! Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Young People’s Experiences of Exploring Heritage

For over a year, we’ve been working in exciting fun ways with young people to explore heritage, identity and belonging and we are so delighted with the feedback we are receiving

Design by Shafia Fiaz

Fatima, age 21, joined Manchester Museum Young Collective in January 2020:

I think it is important to mention the significance and value of the weekly meetings, both physically before Covid, and after, using Zoom. I think the value of these meetings cannot be overstated. They strengthen the relationships that we in the group have with each other and thus, they are fundamental in shaping the group to be a place where everybody feels comfortable discussing theirs and others ideas. Additionally, I think that because the group is a comfortable space, new members who join the Collective, feel immediately welcomed. This was certainly the case for me. I was nervous joining the group but there is an immediate sense of ease and openness conveyed in the meetings.

I also very much enjoyed participating in the planning for the multilingual Beauty and the Beasts event. Being from a mixed ethnic background, it has meant a lot to me on a personal level to be able to participate and communicate openly with others on matters that are important to me, and which are not always approached in predominantly monocultural circles (my university experience). I love how open everybody is to different ideas, and accepting of my own ideas even when I was very new to the group when the planning Beauty and the Beasts. 

Working with Sadia has been an absolute pleasure; I cannot fault her leadership in any way. She is kind, wise, open-minded, and very welcoming. She is always keen to promote our personal development, by constantly encouraging us and offering us all opportunities for various things. Her leadership really shines here as she has the ability to recognise and remember each individuals’ strengths and therefore which opportunities are best suited to them. Sadia is incredibly supportive and very approachable with every matter, and I am able to communicate with her at any given time; this is very important to me personally, being new to the group. Furthermore, it is very apparent that Sadia has a wonderful skill in communicating with all age groups, who are from different backgrounds.

I think it is all so great; welcoming, informative, and there are many opportunities.

I’ve been developing key skills: teamwork, communication, preparation and organisation. The project is particularly incredible because it allows me to work with the museum critically (opening up the institution to various groups of people who have been traditionally and indirectly excluded from such spaces). The Collective has given me the opportunity to not only experience the immense planning and technicalities of organisation of events, but it has also allowed me to experience very important aspects of the cultural and arts industry. I have also had the opportunity to meet exceptional people, such as academics (The Mughals history session with Dr. Zalan) and poets (for e.g. the 4/8/20 colourism and colonialism workshop with Suhaiymah Manzoor Khan (the Brown Hijabi), and designers and more.

I participated in the planning and organisation of the multilingual Beauty and the Beasts event in Sylvia’s Space at Manchester Museum. I designed both the advertising poster and itinerary for the event. I particularly enjoyed designing the poster for the event and receiving feedback from other members in the group on how to improve the piece. I have also created a cover for a future post on the blog related to the wonderful and many cuisines of South Asia. Additionally, I designed the cover for the collective’s anti racist education book list. I have also attended and participated in discussions during the designer presentations event. I was also one of the young people who presented during Dr Zalan’s Mughal history session.

The Covid Convos

As part of South Asia Studios #SAS, we are reaching out to young South Asian people in this pandemic and asking to hear your views and experiences in dealing with uncertainty and Covid-19.

Design by Hawwa Alam

I am a house wife, my daily routine include cooking, home chores and taking care of my family. During lockdown due to Covid 19 my family members spend more than 4 months at home. This was a challenging time for us, the COVID-19 situation is particularly stressful because it’s hard to predict how things will develop, and our circumstances are changing rapidly. This can leave us feeling powerless, like we’re no longer in control of our own lives. As is the case in many aspects of our lives, there are things we can’t control in this situation. These include the actions and reactions of other people, how long the situation will last, and what might happen in the future.

Me and my husband had to ask our children several times during a day to wash their hands, use hand sanitizer if going outside.  

It is hard to stay at home for 4 months with young children, they were always asking us to go outside, they wanted to see other family members and friends. Some times we could not be able to answer their questions. We were afraid that they might go in stress and anxiety. 

To help our children through this tough time, we tried to arrange small picnics in our garden, playing outdoor games and other fun activities. 

I pray that every family be safe in this situation and everyone will get soon.

By Tanzila Balooch


It’s Time To Talk: Forced Marriage

This online art exhibition created by Shafia Fiaz aims to focus on overlooked and taboo topics within the South Asian community because its ‘time to talk’. With an added challenge targeted to artists to illustrate their artwork and receive a chance to be featured on the OSCH and Manchester Museum social media platforms.

By Maryam Arshad

When a young man and a women are bonded in a unwanted relationship, they suffer in silence for rest of their lives. 
Forced marriages are not just cruel but also an abuse of human rights and a form of domestic violence as well.
No matter if bride and groom are not happy with this marriage, the most important thing is that their families are happy that their child did not disrespect them or their wishes.

Families put pressure on them , or even use emotional blackmail, to make them feel guilty and force them to believe that if they do not agree to the forced marriage then they are going against their religion, culture or family wishes. 
In some cases if a girl or boy refuse a forced marriage, they may have to face consequences such as abuses, homelessness or in worse cases death.
This is a very serious matter and we should rise our voices against force marriages.

By Maryam Arshad


The challenge is for artists to create artwork based on some overlooked or taboo topics in the South Asian community alongside a paragraph explaining your thoughts and opinions on that particular issue/topic. 

Submissions can be sent to @shafiaa_z or shafiastar1@gmail.com and will be posted on OSCH and Manchester Museum social media platforms.

The Covid Convos

As part of South Asia Studios #SAS, we are reaching out to young South Asian people in this pandemic and asking to hear your views and experiences in dealing with uncertainty and Covid-19.

Design by Hawwa Alam

Living alone, hundreds of miles away from my family. When lockdown started, I thought it will be fun, I would spend all my time resting in my house. I thought how hard could staying at home possibly be? After a while, the reality of the situation started to sink in. It all started with nightmares and sleepless long dark nights. I was lost in my own home, I could not understand if I was trapped in my own home or in my own head. 

All this has left me feeling overwhelmed and anxious, it was hard for me to adjust to a new normal.

I felt like I am wasting my time, even though I was constantly battling against time to complete the deadlines at work and ensuring that my home looks like home, the guilt was still creep in.

To deal with this pressure I started to look for activities, such as making makeup tutorials. I was focus on making it one day at a time and not get crushed by the guilt of not doing enough.

I was always reminding my self that things can only get better. 

After a month I started to feel better because I was busy in doing something, but there was a worry over my head. I missed my family. Between staying alone and getting worried about the safety of loved ones, I was not the only one who is fighting bouts of loneliness.

While Facetime and Zoom calls have certainly helped me in bridging the distance, but still I was craving for my mother touch.  

By Anaya Ali


To share your story please submit a diary entry (which could be written, a drawing, photography, or a short video) detailing how you’ve felt over the last year.

Submission to: roheema1@gmail.com or @ryasmxn
Deadline: rolling basis

Young People’s Experiences of Exploring Heritage

For over a year, we’ve been working in exciting fun ways with young people to explore heritage, identity and belonging and we are so delighted with the feedback we are receiving

Nimah, age 19, joined Manchester Museum Young Collective in October 2019:

I’ve been involved in so much: Chinese-Arabic calligraphy event; South Asia Gallery planning; Transnational Institute discourses of War on Terror Event; Young people’s sessions; watching Trojan Horse play at Oldham Coliseum; travelling to see Jambo Cinema exhibition at Nottingham New Arts Centre; organising the multilingual Beauty and the Beasts event. I really enjoy our meals out and loved everything we’ve done: every single trip and event! Everybody gets along and we can keep working on what we are interested in. I think OSCH have been doing very well online despite the Covid 19 situation.

Some of the activities we have worked on together have been event planning, exploring heritage but also social activism. Our young voices are heard by the public.  We have been on many trips. I went to Nottingham and saw the ‘Asian Women In Cars’ exhibition, and Oldham Coliseum and watched The Trojan Horse play. Both trips were impressive and covered issues affecting in South Asian communities. 

We have been networking as well, and contacting people for our events. We have been able to interview people too, like the writers of the Trojan Horse play and event speakers who work at the Transnational Institute. Working on these activities has been very interesting and I am expanding my knowledge on important issues, on my culture and other cultures too. It has been exciting and makes me feel empowered. We have a big platform like Manchester Musuem, and have the freedom to say what we think. We do not need to be silenced because we are young people, or ethnic minority or working class. We are treated as equals in Manchester Museum.

In our collective sessions, there is a relaxed atmosphere. Working with the coordinator feels like we are working with a friend. She always gives us positive feedback for the ideas we come up with for the Museum. Also, she thanks us at the end of every session even though she is the one who makes everything happen! She knows about all the culture events around the UK and gives us access to events for free. She has made the project fun as she is really passionate about culture and heritage herself. She is always sharing articles and works of interest to inspire us. We are able to have important conversations with her about decolonisation, racism and much more. I also like that she makes sure that we have food in the sessions. If she knows we are going to arrive home late from an event, she messages us when we get home to make sure that we are safe. She looks after us and I don’t think I would’ve learnt and accessed as much heritage as I have over this year with another co-ordinator!

The Covid Convos

As part of South Asia Studios #SAS, we are reaching out to young South Asian people in this pandemic and asking to hear your views and experiences in dealing with uncertainty and Covid-19.

Art by Hawwa Alam

I only found out a couple of weeks ago when he sent a very long text message to me explaining to me. He told me that his mother had recently tested positive for covid-19 through her job. He then, not long after tested positive too.

         I could feel his pain and anxiety just by reading his message. He was more concerned about his mother since she was elderly and had underlying health conditions. I felt bad for him and tried to comfort him. I could tell he was lonely since he was always online (maybe suggesting that he had a lot of spare time) so I spent as much time as I could with him by attending calls, messaging and facetiming to help him recover and feel better. 

         I understood that being “locked up” had really affected his mental health a lot; he had started to suggest sad songs to me which was not like him since he was more of an optimistic person. I started worrying about him. 

        When he was able to go outside, we arranged to meet up at a café together. He told me how bad it was for him and I listened reluctantly. Then, all of a sudden, he started crying when he started telling me about his mother. She had died after suffering. He just sat there letting his tears roll down his cheek. I still remember how he was in pain but had managed to force a sad smile on his face.

        At the time, I realised that people who had to self-isolate should be given more attention especially if they didn’t have any family members or friends to support them. 


To share your story please submit a diary entry (which could be written, a drawing, photography, or a short video) detailing how you’ve felt over the last year.

Submission to: roheema1@gmail.com or @ryasmxn
Deadline: rolling basis

Young People’s Experiences of Exploring Heritage

For over a year, we’ve been working in exciting fun ways with young people to explore heritage, identity and belonging and we are so delighted with the feedback we are receiving

Afzal, age 22, joined Manchester Museum Young Collective in January 2020:

Being a part of OSCH has allowed me to delve into my own cultural heritage and has allowed me to interact with like-minded people. As I study English and American Literature, it has been very rare that I have come across South Asians who are as interested in Literature as I am, so this has been a brilliant opportunity. This has been a profound experience that I am immensely grateful for.

Sadia is brilliant to work with as she is someone that I feel comfortable sharing ideas that might be considered odd as she is very supportive and is willing to facilitate any ideas that we may have. She is also very knowledgeable about issues that pertain to heritage, which is perfect as I am able to learn through working with her. 

The multilingual poetry and Mughal history event, both of which I hosted allowed me to work on my confidence and my hosting skills. Organising and leading the poetry event was a lot of fun and a brilliant experience as I was able to learn so much about a variety of different languages and their respective poetry.

The Covid Convos

As part of South Asia Studios #SAS, we are reaching out to young South Asian people in this pandemic and asking to hear your views and experiences in dealing with uncertainty and Covid-19.

Design by Hawwa Alam

I travelled to my home country in March 2020, I had to come back in April 2020, but due to lockdown in UK and all the flights were shut down, I could not come back.

My family struggled a lot without me, my partner can not drive, so therefore my family had to use public transport to buy household items. It was so frustrating for them to wait in queues for hours and hours outside the supermarkets in rain and cold, but then my children decided to shop online, but there were queues online as well, and most of the necessary items were always out of stock. 

My wife was very ill, she was positive for Covid 19, so therefore she had to self-isolate herself. She could not even ask a family member or friend to come to visit her or help our children with home chores. Whenever they needed any medicine or food, I asked my friends to help them, but most of them just ignored because they knew my wife was Covid 19 Positive. 

I felt so guilty about this trip to my home country, everytime I visited my home country I felt so relaxed and happy, but this time it was so stressful. This time I missed my family so much and just wanted to be with them as soon as possible. 

In August 2020 I paid more for return ticket and came back to UK. I had to be in quarantine for 15 days. After that I visited my family members and felt so relieved. 


To share your story please submit a diary entry (which could be written, a drawing, photography, or a short video) detailing how you’ve felt over the last year.

Submission to: roheema1@gmail.com or @ryasmxn
Deadline: rolling basis

Young People’s Experiences of Exploring Heritage

For over a year, we’ve been working in exciting fun ways with young people to explore heritage, identity and belonging and we are so delighted with the feedback we are receiving

Maryam, age 18, joined Manchester Museum Young Collective in December 2019:

It’s a great initiative which I am so glad to have heard about and be a part of. 

Ever since joining the OSCH museum group we have worked on a number of projects. Planning before hand and bringing our ideas to life! My confidence has grown a lot, since we are put in charge of the events and especially as we are working with a team. I was put in a position where I had to work with people I didn’t know at all and build a relationship with everyone which really helped me get out of my comfort zone and build my confidence. Also it may sound trivial but even travelling by myself to Manchester and back – and feeling like this was part of my ‘work/volunteering’ – made me feel more responsible especially since I live in a small town.

One of the best experiences and highlights of being a part of this group is the planning that went on behind some of the events we put together as I was given the opportunity to put my ideas forward and see them ideas come to life. Generally the highlight for me has been getting to know everyone, what their lives, education, experiences are like and discussing interesting subjects.

The multilingual Beauty and the Beasts event we put together for the Museum exhibition highlighted events require a lot of planning and input. It was definitely a group effort and we all put a lot of ideas/resources including myself. It was by far my favourite activity, really nice to work with everyone on it. And what I really liked is we all worked on and organised according to our strengths and likes. It was very useful to know for the future that it takes time, organisation and a team to bring the event to life. Working with Sadia is really fun. She makes everything easy for us. What I really appreciate is that everything is explained fully. She also really values ideas and projects we have in mind which is something really important to me.

Young People’s Experiences of Exploring Heritage

For over a year, we’ve been working in exciting fun ways with young people to explore heritage, identity and belonging and we are so delighted with the feedback we are receiving

Sumaiyah, age 19, joined Manchester Museum Young Collective in September 2019:

I’ve enjoyed working in a team and meeting new people with similar interests and passions which has helped me to enjoy group work much more than I used to. Also planning events and compromising and discussing has given me good practice for group projects at university. My favourite experiences were seeing Trojan Horse at Oldham Coliseum, as well as successfully organising the multilingual Beauty and the Beasts event. I find every meetup on Thursdays are usually a highlight of the week when we have lots of exciting things to discuss. 

I take part in South Asia Gallery meetings and offer opinions on what it needs or doesn’t need.  I have attended lots of different workshops and talks such as the South Asian History month launch, and the Chinese-Arabic calligraphy art class. I was responsible for updating the multilingual Beauty and the Beasts event keep and posting on our social media accounts.  

The activities and weekly collective also gave me structure in my weekly plan and routine, as well. For me this Collective, and the activities we carry out and attend, mean a safe place to explore and educate myself on my own South-Asian heritage as well as others South-Asian heritage, grow my confidence and give my opinions and suggestions to a group of people who value me,  an emotional boost. On the weeks where I was feeling low, I had something to look forward to and feel like I was contributing to something beneficial, with a group of people outside my univeristy friend circle which was refreshing. I feel as though I have gained lots of skills from it all, as well as new knowledge and confidence in giving my own opinion.

It was very enjoyable exploring heritage and what it means to different people, it was something nobody had ever discussed with me outside of my family and friends, I feel like we made a lot of progress and benefited many different people, of different ages, in the process. It was lovely to see how happy people were to enjoy their own culture and history, and it felt good to know I was a part of a space and group that encourages that.

Sadia is very kind, open minded and flexible with meetings and events. She always wanted everybody to feel comfortable and heard, and her goal was always for the young people to get involved as much as possible. She had lots of connections and contacts which she was always getting us in contact with, she also used these to get us into events and activities such as getting us the Trojan horse tickets. I find her very inspiring, the work she is doing is very important to young people who are acknowledging and celebrating their own culture.

Young People’s Experiences of Exploring Heritage

For over a year, we’ve been working in exciting fun ways with young people to explore heritage, identity and belonging and we are so delighted with the feedback we are receiving

Afzal, age 22, joined Manchester Museum Young Collective in January 2020:

Being a part of OSCH has allowed me to delve into my own cultural heritage and has allowed me to interact with like-minded people. As I study English and American Literature, it has been very rare that I have come across South Asians who are as interested in Literature as I am, so this has been a brilliant opportunity. This has been a profound experience that I am immensely grateful for.

Sadia is brilliant to work with as she is someone that I feel comfortable sharing ideas that might be considered odd as she is very supportive and is willing to facilitate any ideas that we may have. She is also very knowledgeable about issues that pertain to heritage, which is perfect as I am able to learn through working with her. 

The multilingual poetry and Mughal history event, both of which I hosted allowed me to work on my confidence and my hosting skills. Organising and leading the poetry event was a lot of fun and a brilliant experience as I was able to learn so much about a variety of different languages and their respective poetry.