Sharing things

Season 5: Super Snippet Special

November 18, 2021 The University of Edinburgh Season 5 Episode 7
Sharing things
Season 5: Super Snippet Special
Show Notes Transcript

So that was Sharing things season 5. Thank you to all our amazing guests. To Kevin, Aisha, George, Tammy, David, Caroline, Nuam, Olivia, Lily and Debora. We started with a  mission to explore hidden and unexpected corners of our university community and what emerged was a fascinating conversational journey through identity, opportunity, escape, family and home. As our new guide, Ayanda brought warmth, curiosity and infectious laughter. We had lots of favourite moments but these conversational snippets have stayed with us. 

Whether you are a regular listener or new to the Sharing things world, we hope you enjoy season 5's final fling.

Sharing things will return in 2022. Maybe we’ll be back in the studio again - meeting our guests face to face rather than over a dodgy internet connection. You never know. Here’s hoping.   

You can find more information on the Sharing things website.

Graphic images designed by Chris Behr. They are part of his Nice Things icon set. 

[Theme music] 

Kate 0:07 So that was Sharing things season 5. Thank you to all our amazing guests. To Kevin, Aisha, George, Tammy, David, Caroline, Nuam, Olivia, Lily and Debora. Thank you for your openness, your honesty and - of course - your sharing. Also big thanks and total respect to Ayanda our host and fearless community explorer. Wishing you the best of luck with your final year. You will absolutely smash it. 

We had loads of favourite moments this season but these conversational snippets stuck with us. Lets start with our host special where we got to meet Ayanda Ngobeni in conversation with myself, Kate Stewart. 

[Theme music] 

Ayanda 0:51 Family is definitely those group of people that you kind of got stuck with when you were born [laughs]. That just love you unconditionally. It's, for me family signifies a safe space. People who will just always have your back. And it was so important for me to select something that relates to family because I'm so far away from them now for long periods of time, when for a good 21 years of my life, that's all I knew. So yes, family just signifies, you know who I am today, who I've grown up to be. And you know, those are the people you go through thick and thin with and people who know you most in the world. And I'm very fortunate and very lucky to have a family like that. And I miss them dearly. And same with-- when Kate was speaking about her sister earlier, it got me like a little emotional, because that's the similar bond that my sister and I have. You know, I guess my sense of humour definitely comes from her [laughs]. And yeah, we have like our own little, like, cute language, and so on. And I think it was very important to me to pick something that relates to family, I didn't even do it consciously. But now that I think about it, it was very important to me, because it just signifies a very strong tie of who I am today, who, you know-- it's just yeah, it's just gets me all mushy inside, you know, it's family, man [laughs].

Kate 2:29 Yeah, and when you said about the object that you chose, it was like, you weren't doing it consciously. That was the exact same for me, because, yeah, I was looking through all these different things that I'd collected tickets, etc. But this one, because it had that family connection, now kind of reflecting back on why I chose it, it's, yeah, your family are the people that know you best, I suppose. And I feel like I can just completely be myself around my family and thinking about the connection I have with my sister as well, you know, just like the inside jokes. And, you know, just, it's, I don't think I could have that with any other person. I don't think there's anyone that gets me as much as my sister gets me.

Ayanda 3:15 Olivia Sweeney and Nuam Hatzaw. 

Olivia 3:19 I think it's also the confidence to be wrong and change your mind. Like I think I have to be, not had to be right, I would hold, hold on to things like I decided that I'm going to do this and now I'm going to see it through to the bitter end, despite the fact I hate what I'm doing right now. Whereas now I'm like, no, I've got enough going on in my life, I'm just gonna let that go and I don't mind that I'm evolving.

Nuam 3:40 I think it's like the pressure isn't it? Like the-- when you're 21, you're, you're surrounded by so many interesting and amazing influences in your life that you're kind of like, oh, I want to be like this person, or I want to be like this group now. And then you kind of, and it takes you a while, at least certainly for me to kind of find like the kind of group or the type of person that you want to be and to be okay with the fact that it might not fit with a or it might not fit with b, but you know, whatever, like, this is who I am.

Ayanda 4:06 I must, I must agree. I mean, I was 21, like three years ago. So maybe I don't have that much to say about like, you know, growth. But I think moving away, like from home and coming here, I've there's a lot that has changed about me. And I think the beauty of it, as you guys mentioned the whole thing about being comfortable in what you believe in, I think I'm approaching that as well and kind of getting into that space, but how do you then interact with the environment around you, that is used to you being a certain way? And now you've changed, how do you, how do you like, deal with that?

Olivia 4:42 Run away [laughs]. So, yeah, university, I was there for five years and then I-- I've moved twice. Yeah, I have an expiry date, I think on, on being in a place. And that's, and that's not necessarily in relation to what you were saying, but I, therefore you kind of don't have to deal with that, which is a nice thing, apart from the people I choose to keep. And they obviously get it and evolve with you and are like part of that. And I think if you're talking about wider society that's, that's a different thing, isn't it? So, I don't know with that. Sometimes you shut it out, sometimes you let it in, I suppose. If people reach out from your-- my past, so to speak, may that be kind of through university staff or through friendships or work, I think they've seen my evolution. So there's something that resonates in that new iteration. 

Ayanda 5:37 Mm hmm. Nuam, what about you?

 Nuam 5:40 Um, I think I would say that there's always an element of who the-- of the previous version of yourself in your current version of yourself. So I think, so I'm thinking primarily of the fact that like I went to SOAS in London, I don't know if you guys know it. It's the School of Oriental African Studies. And it's got a reputation for being a very left wing radical University, which I love, love, love, love, love. But my self there is more outspoken than myself in Edinburgh for various reasons. But when I'm back in SOAS, when I'm engaging with activist spaces, all that kind of stuff, like yeah, that's, that's who I am. And how I am in Edinburgh, doesn't necessarily mean that I've kind of forgotten who I am back in London, or that aspect of my personality that's a bit more vocal about political social justice issues, all that kind of stuff. It's just like, I'm, I'm wearing a different hat. 

Ayanda 6:29 Aisha Holloway and Kevin Harman. 

Aisha 6:32 I think it's about-- I think it's like everything, you know, you come across everyone in society and here's the thing that you learn from day one is that everyone is equal. If the consistency is that everyone gets the same care, because they are as equal to someone else. A bit like doctors have the Hippocratic oath, nurses don't have that but there is a-- it's, it's in you it's part of, it's, it's just part of what you do and your partner will be doing the same. You know everyone in that health profession is, is there for a purpose. It's to take away pain and pain it can be physical, emotional, its to provide comfort. They're not basic things. I don't like that word. There's no such thing as basic care. There's essential care. 

Ayanda 7:22 Yes. 

Aisha 7:23 You know, there's nothing basic about caring for somebody because there is an emotional connection. There's that, the thing I-- the emotional labour, being aware of that. Emotional labour is really important in self-care. You know, how can you care for others if you're not caring for yourself? And even when I'm speaking it sounds quite simple, but it's a huge challenge for all of us to take care of ourselves.

Ayanda 7:50 How much of your work involves that emotion?

Kevin 7:54 It overrides, like so much. Oh god, if I'm sitting idle, I feel like what am I doing? Like I'm able-bodied. I am fortunate enough to have all my limbs. I've got something in my head, I can put things together. If I'm sitting idle and I'm not using this and I'm not doing the best-- so I need to maximise this, the usage of this and some of the emotions that I get are like, absolutely driven towards creating a better society. I see, it's not about just me and my family, it's about the community that looks after everybody. And if we can concentrate on that and make that a bit better things, things can get better, things, things can become sort of warmer and generous, you know. And so-- sorry, I get like that part, that emotion comes out and I try, I try probably try to do too much. So kind of looking after yourself is important, I think that's sometimes maybe neglected when ambition and vision keep you jumping towards the edge [laughter].

Ayanda 9:07 Debora Kayembe and Lily Mellon. 

Lily 9:12 I think, for me stuff like, these games do provide a form of escapism and a break from things, I am definitely someone who can't switch off quickly or easily. And so quite often, I'll find myself multitasking, relaxing things. So that's-- there-- so there's no space for extra thoughts or little to do list things, because taking time for yourself can just be so important. And all my previous jobs have been always been so immersive. I work for a sound company in Glasgow, so PA, live events, music gigs, and things like that and when you go away working with people, even just for a week on some thing, you really enter this bubble, and you work long hours with people and you get really close. So your time is really snatched up, or you become immersed temporarily in this thing, in this project and the next and also, I au paired in Sweden for two years. And again, you know, I lived in with a family and even if I technically finish my work in the evening, the kids do not disappear, you cannot pack them away for the next morning. So it becomes a major part of your life and your existence. And your identity is really attached to your work. And I think I'm always someone who's attached my identity to my work and surrounded myself with people who are doing the same. And I've felt that really recently about student life and studying at the university or just studying in general, perhaps there's also an element of being confined, or way more confined during Covid restrictions, as it's that lack of kind of gap or boundaries when you're a 24 hour student compared to a nine to five office thing somewhere. But until your course completes, there's the next assignment and there's something hanging in the background requiring attention. So there's no set hours, it's your project. And I've been doing my own research project for the past year, and it's my own, or I'm in charge of it. And it's my responsibility for that. And so technically, I can always be doing something. And often my response to that is, when I feel like I'm doing a lot, is to do more. And I know that there are similar people out there and that phrase of saying, you know, ask a busy person to get something done, I think really holds true. But sometimes it's just about how you take time for just you and how-- when you have lots of roles or when you're someone who defines themselves in many ways by the work and are wearing different hats, maybe in your job or in your life in general. Then you just take time and switch off and that is this object for me, or a representation of, of that, within this object. I still play games today on consoles, which aren't broken, or just on my phone, and I'll have a YouTube rabbit hole playing in the background or some really rubbish TV and my mind just goes blank. And I take that time and I, I go back to things I'm doing, I think better for it. So this object is kind of wrapped up, either in escapism and quiet for me, or the opposite being surrounded by people and noise and, and yeah, life.

Debora 12:24 Many people does not know this. I'm a very spiritual person. And my escape is in the Bible, because in my life, I face a lot of torture, physical torture, and mental abuse. I had that too much as a child, and I grew up with it, and I've grown from it. So I've had the exercise of protecting my soul, and keeping my soul healthy, and using the Bible, the reading of the Bible, and impersonating the reading of the Bible is my escape. Every time people do bad things to me, every time people plan something bad to me, I always have the Bible reading Psalm 23, I read that a lot, glorify God in His magnificence. This is my escape. Many people don't know that-- they think I'm not spiritual. I'm extremely, deeply spiritual. And that is my strength, because I know to whom to talk, to whom to open up, and to whom to glorify, when I am reduced to nothing, I glorify Him.

Ayanda 13:29 Tammy Piper and George McGavin. 

George 13:33 I mean, it is bizarre that having had a stammer at a young age that got worse and worse until I was about 14, when it was literally the worst ever. In fact, for a year between the age of 14 and 15 I didn't speak at home or at school. I was a self imposed mute, because there was no point there was literally no point. And if you had come Ayanda from the future, in a time machine, to me aged 14, and had told me right, George, this is what's gonna happen to you, you're going to become a university lecturer, and not just at any university at Oxford University. You get to do that for 25 years and then when you finish that you're going to become a television presenter making, you know, dozens and dozens of documentaries and short films for the BBC. I would have thought you were insane. I literally could not have imagined anything less probable than that. And so when I talk to kids about this, I, I impress on them the fact that you never can tell what's around the corner, you just don't know. And it might seem totally unreachable. It might seem a goal that you will never, ever attain. But you just don't know. You just don't know. I don't know if something in me, made me want to prove to myself or to prove to other people that that I was not handicapped in this way. I don't know. But certainly I think it is now vitally important that people understand the natural world.

Tammy 15:35 When I was younger, I was painfully shy to talk to anyone. So we got really awkward and embarrassed easily and I didn't have the easiest of childhoods. And --but I was clever. So I just knew that I wanted to study science, because it meant I had an opportunity to go away from my difficult home and live somewhere totally different, and be amongst people who didn't know me. Ironically, one of my first jobs when I left school was as a tour guide in an aquarium doing children's parties and talking to members of the public, which I managed to do. And it gave me real confidence. And then when I left University, like I said, I kind of fell into pathology and the research side of it, there's an aspect of me wanting to prove because I think about, you know, the other people from my hometown, who I was in school with, for example, and how their lives panned out for them. And I kind of wanted to make sure that that didn't happen to me, necessarily. But I also wanted to just --that I didn't have an example of somebody from my sort of town with my sort of background, doing these sorts of work during this type of studying or this type of job. So I kind of want to be that example so when people say, yeah, but it's alright for them because they come from money or whatever. And I'm like well I didn't come from money and I'm doing this. You know, I'm a girl, I'm doing this. I went to state school, I'm still doing this. So I kind of I think that's my drive now. Is to try and show to people from certain demographics actually, no, you can do this. I was like you, you know, I left home at 16, it's fine. You can do this it may not be easy, but you can still do it. So that's kind of what drives me a bit.

Ayanda 17:11 David Weinczok and Caroline Norton. 

David 17:16 It can change your life those moments of indecision, those moments of doubt. And I guess what I would say to people struggling with that is, as much as it might be challenging in the moment, the one time that it pays off is going to be worth all the times that it didn't.

Caroline 17:33 Because I think a lot of the time imposter syndrome is, is experienced by people who are really, really ambitious and who care so, so much. And I remember there was a lecturer that we had, and he said, don't be paralysed by ambition. And I thought that was such a wonderful thought that I always, always keep with me, because-

Ayanda 17:51 I need to write this down. So many things coming out of here today.

Caroline 17:55 I just always think about it because it's true. I get so excited about something and I'm so passionate about it or whatever. And that starts paralysing me and then that imposter syndrome really starts to come in. And something that began as this amazing opportunity that I want to share with everyone has just turned into this horrifically, you know, nerve racking experience that I'm terrified about even just starting because, you know, what if it doesn't materialise. But, like you said, I mean, you've got to do it, because what if?

David 18:28 I was just wondering, Caroline, if you have, you know, a way of sort of talking yourself down from that, or, or trying to step back from that all or nothing mentality? Because that, that resonates, you know. It's like, if you've not, you know, if you're not like, you know, in the Forbes 30 under 30, then why are you bothering, you know, and, like, you wanna talk about toxic minds...

Caroline 18:52 It's true, though.

Ayanda 18:54 Yeah, like, that's the fastest way to get there. 

Caroline 18:56 You're just kind of, like, why am I bothering? I think those experiences are sort of like, you're not grounded in reality, because you're just so caught up in your head, and you're so caught up in these contingencies of, you know, if, when, where, how, why? That I feel like I'm grounded by having friends that are different, you know, and working so hard and creating a network and a support group and a community that is not the echo chamber. And that, I find hugely, hugely important. And I think about all these stories that are around me, and I'm thinking of, you know, this person doing this, and this person doing that. And to me, that is grounding, it makes me talk myself down, because I'm like, you know, things are out of your control. And you know, all these brilliant people that are so different that have gotten to their places in such different ways. And you're just another one of those people that's going to do it your own way, and calm down or, you know, calm down. 

David 19:53 It's really special and I think important, as well, to sort of acknowledge in that scenario that you know, you have these, these friends, and you know, these colleagues, acquaintances from all these different walks of life doing these incredible things. And, you know, you probably think the world of some of them, and someone in that circle, you know, thinks the world of you and thinks you're doing incredible, amazing things and just be like, yeah, these people chose me to be a part of their lives as well. That's cool.

[Theme music]

Kate 20:28 Sharing things will return in 2022. Maybe we’ll be back in the studio again - meeting our guests face to face rather than over a dodgy internet connection. You never know. Here’s hoping. In the meantime stay tuned for a winter treat. A Christmas special that asks podcast listeners about their favourite gifts? What makes something special? Why do we treasure some things and re-gift others? If you fancy sharing your gift memories contact us at and be part of the Sharing things audio tapestry of people and memories.