As the first cohort of #WeAreInternational Student Ambassadors end their term, we’ve sat down with them to reflect on their experiences. The #WeAreInternational Student Ambassador programme is UKCISA’s student network of global future leaders. We are proud to work with and learn from our Student Ambassadors to help deliver a vision for a world-class international student experience.
Daniel Haid is a postgraduate researcher at Sheffield Hallam, working to improve ice hockey helmets and concussion prevention. Originally from Germany, Daniel has not only studied internationally in the UK but also in northern Sweden where he spent a semester of his MSc in Sports Engineering.
As the only EU citizen in UKCISA’s first ambassador cohort, Daniel has worked as a co-leader of the EU/Brexit Working Group, a group set up by the ambassadors to tackle challenges faced by EU students in the UK. We sat down to discuss his work representing European students, his confidence in public engagement projects, his love for ice hockey, and his skills gained through the student ambassador programme.
Can you tell me about the work you’ve done helping EU students in the UK post-Brexit?
One major project I worked on had to do with the EU Settlement Scheme, trying to clarify the scheme for students using social media. We made video and visual content and even got students involved by posting fun quizzes about what could be accepted as proper documentation for the scheme.
More people applied for the scheme than the government thought were in the UK from the EU, so we must have helped reach a lot of people.
“More people applied for the scheme than the government thought were in the UK from the EU, so we must have helped reach a lot of people.”
You’ve done a lot of media and public engagement roles with UKCISA, speaking at the BUILA conference and Study UK Fair, and being interviewed by Deutsche Welle. Do you get nervous when doing these speaking roles?
Not anymore. I used to get nervous and overprepare everything I’d say, but now I’m more confident. I know that public speaking was something I needed to improve on massively before I joined as an ambassador, and that’s part of the reason I got so involved with it.
One event in particular that I was nervous about was at last year’s UKCISA Fest. It was a session with an All-Party Parliamentary Group and my local MP was chairing it. There had been a mix-up that resulted in none of the Student Ambassadors coming prepared to speak. Only five minutes before the event, we decided that I should be the one to speak with the MP, as I was a constituent.
Before going live, I was panicking. Over 80 people were in the online waiting room, and I hadn’t prepared anything. But it ended up going great and I loved the event. My changed attitude toward public speaking has been a huge accomplishment.
“My changed attitude toward public speaking has been a huge accomplishment.”
Would you say your experience as a Student Ambassador has helped you in other areas of your life?
Absolutely, a great example is my role in The University of Sheffield’s ice hockey club. I’ve taken a lot from what I learned with UKCISA and applied it to our committee.
After I joined the club, I began to notice issues that other people weren’t picking up on. I took a step back and realised that these issues were only obvious to me because of my training with UKCISA. Recently I was even able to increase funding from both universities in Sheffield by simply applying tactics I’d learned through UKCISA training sessions.
Outside of hockey, I’d say the programme helped with my cultural awareness. When I first came to England, I would sometimes offend people by being too direct – a classic German quality. Although people understood that I never meant to be mean, I knew that I needed to be more aware of people’s backgrounds when speaking to them. This group of ambassadors is so diverse that it helped me with this.
Now that your term as an ambassador and your PhD are both coming to an end, what’s next for you?
I think finding a job after my PhD will be a nice challenge because I don’t feel geographically bound to anywhere. I’ve been around so many different cultures and nationalities that I think I could live almost anywhere. Finding a job is something I’m looking forward to because it’s all about what I want to do, not about where I need to be.
Last week I was on the phone with my mum, and she jokingly said she’d told her friends that I’d probably move to Canada or Switzerland next. She said, “You’re way too international to come home now!”.