A London View of South Asia

Sidikha Ashraf '18 poses in front of a London telephone box


What are you studying at King’s College?

I’m taking Intro to Global Health; Intro to Social Medicine; A Mad World, My Masters: Performing Culture in Jacobean London; and my favorite, a digital humanities class called Representations of Cultural Heritage, which is all about digitizing cultural heritage. For our final, we’re submitting a wireframe and essay explaining an artifact we would want to digitize. I’m doing mine on Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the Quran. He did refer to it for foreign diplomacy purposes, so I thought it would be cool to digitize it for educational purposes and [pair it with] a more modern translation of the Quran. …

Any extracurricular activities?

I’ve been really involved in the KCL Islamic Society on Campus (ISOC). I participated in their famous Charity Week, where university ISOCs from around the world raise money for children in need, while also competing against each other to see who raises the most. The grand total raised by all the ISOCs that competed across the globe was £1,169,285.48 [$1.6 million]. Besides that, I’ve mostly been sightseeing.

What has surprised you most about British life?

So many lanyards. Almost everyone is wearing one, and no one feels dorky about it. The girl with the BBC anchor voice in one of my classes even bedazzled hers.

Most important lessons learned?

My social medicine class had a lecture just about “suffering,” and two of the case studies were set in India. Being a South Asian American woman who wasn’t taught much about partition or anything really about South Asian history, it’s been emotional learning some things for the first time. I did a lot of self-research after that class and have been going to exhibits in London focusing on South Asian history. For example, I recently went to an exhibit on Ayurveda in the Wellcome Collection. Every new fact and story about colonialism or being South Asian, I’m just absorbing. It’s all been helpful for further understanding my identity.

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