International Relations student long-listed for writing competition

Published: 29 May 2019

Masters student, Nimisha Menon, receives recognition by Beyond Borders Scotland

School of Social & Political Sciences student, Nimisha Menon, was recently long-listed in a creative writing competition on the theme of 'Inspirational Women'. 

Choosing to write about Indian author and poet, Kamala Das, Nimisha submitted their essay, Daughter of Malabar, with just three days to go until the Beyond Borders Scotland competition deadline.

"I wanted to get as far as away possible from the academic writing I had done for the year and just flex my artistic creativity. I chose to write on Kamala Das, because very few know of her, even in her home country. It felt like a fitting tribute to a woman, who I felt like most women, was misunderstood, but incredibly deserving of every accolade that came her way. She was liberating not only in her words but also actions, a feat that only few can claim about themselves."

Nimisha hopes to become a cultural diplomant in the future, and is studying on the MRes in International Relations programme at the University of Glasgow. Programme Convenor, Dr Patrick Bayer, says:

"Nimisha is a great example of the high-calibre students our growing International Relations programme has constantly been attracting. I am delighted about her success with the Beyond Borders Scotland writing competition, which showcases everything our programme is about: academic excellence, critical thinking, effective communication, and international dialogue. It is a privilege to work with such inspiring and highly motivated students like Nimisha."

Kamala Das was born in the Malabar district in India in 1934, a writer of poetry and short stories in both English and Malayalam, and also had a pen name of Madhavikutty.

"Her writings were a mere reflection of her soul. She inspires, not because of the eloquence of her chosen words, but because she stood by those words. Like the countless women before her and the countless after her, she remains an inspiration, because she is the very embodiment of womanhood. In a time like the present where wars are waged over one’s faith or lack thereof, perhaps we need more Madhavikuttys’, whose fluidity in character is the best weapon ever wielded. When you are open enough to admit to your flaws, humble enough to succumb to your needs and brave enough to carve new identities for yourself, the world is your oyster as it is and should be for every woman." - Extract from Nimisha's essay

PhD English literature student, Sarah Spence, is specialising in medical humanities, and was also shortlisted, for their poem The Edinburgh Seven, 1870. The Edinburgh Seven were the first female undergraduates in Britain who studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh. 

Sarah says, "The first applicant, Sophia Jex-Blake, was rejected on the grounds she’d be the only female student. She advertised in national newspapers for fellow students, attracting women from all over the country. Once they came together, the University could no longer justify rejecting them. Their solidarity sent a powerful message as they walked together through a much larger (and aggressive) crowd during the Surgeons’ Hall Riot, a protest outside their exams. Their story is a reminder of how far women have travelled politically – and that such progress isn’t possible alone."

"The men in opposition refuse to share their training.
They sabotage our anatomy exam – a feverish gathering
howling in the November weather, throwing rubbish,
mud, dirty words, slamming the Surgeons’ Hall gates.
Closing off our route like a tourniquet turned tight"
- Extract from Sarah's poem

Beyond Borders Scotland is a not-for-profit organisation based in Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders dedicated to facilitating international dialogue and cultural exchange between nations. They are currently running a new creative writing round, and are accepting submissions around the theme of 'Creative Peace', until 14 June 2019.

First published: 29 May 2019

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