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"Birkbeck is the right choice, for everyone"

MA Arts Policy and Management graduate, Sarwar Efendi, was a 2021 Birkbeck Chevening Scholar. Chevening is the UK government’s international scholarships and fellowships programme, funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and partner organisations. Here, he shares his story.

Sarwar Efendi
Sarwar Efendi

Tell us about yourself. 

I am from Kurdistan, northern Iraq, and I work in the arts and culture industry. I recently began a new role at Kashkul, a research, preservation, and translation collective based at American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. I credit my Master’s from Birkbeck in equipping me with the right tools to take on such a senior position at the university. My new job will involve working on preservation, archiving, literary translation and publishing books.  

In my previous position, I was running the UNESCO designation office for the city of Slemani (UNESCO City of Literature). 

Why did you decide to apply for a Chevening scholarship? 

After two years of working, I was well equipped as an arts administrator from a practice point of view. But then I realised that the Master’s in Arts Policy and Management at Birkbeck would really help to equip me theoretically.  

Why Birkbeck?  

I was accepted by three universities, but chose Birkbeck because of the more personal approach. Birkbeck was the only university that invited me to an interview where I met the head of the programme and one of the main lecturers, and that really meant a lot to me. It really made it more human. 

Tell us about what living in London was like? 

I applied to Goodenough College, which is a postgraduate student residence in Bloomsbury, just a seven-minute walk from Birkbeck’s main campus. I was lucky to live there and forged relationships with other students from more than 100 nationalities. 

My social life was great - finding independent cafes and catching up with friends over coffee was a favourite activity of mine, as well as frequenting London’s parks, including Richmond Park, Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath. 

And there’s a strong backbone of support at Birkbeck? 

I felt very supported at Birkbeck. Students can have one-on-one conversations and mentoring with lecturers for essays and dissertations. There’s also a lot of understanding and support for students who moved to London from another country.  

Chevening is an opportunity to get to know yourself better, it enables you to see what’s possible. I designed my year perfectly: Chevening, London, Birkbeck and Goodenough College. If I were to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing! 

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