This weeks prompt asked us to evaluate the extent to which solidarity is present in communal issues throughout our community. In London, I mainly interact with local students who go to the University College of London rather than the broader community. To gain a greater perspective of this topic, I asked two friends that I have made in London about this topic. Overall, I found a similar theme among their answers.
In my entry last week, I mentioned that I had met Kojo at a local restaurant. With this topic in mind, I asked him what solidarity meant to himself and his community. As an aspiring actor, he told me that it was difficult in the beginning of his career to find his place among so many talented actors. He explained that his early career was akin to a proverbial social ladder,“It felt like, as I became more successful, more people wanted to compete for my spot.” He described that his experience was laden with anxiety, rather than the feeling of inadequacy. It was difficult for him to discern between true friendship, mere networking and people who had ulterior motives on their path to success. At first, I thought that his answer signaled the opposite of what “solidarity” should define. Until he explained to me that, in the midst of climbing a social ladder, he learned the value of cherishing and cultivating genuine connections beyond the networking process. “Its important to keep yourself grounded in such a competitive place,” he delineated, “and my real friends were the ones that checked up on me and supported me through difficult times.” I believe that this encompasses the value that locals place on mental health and wellbeing. In a fast-paced environment, it is crucial for others to balance their social and work lives. The younger generation in London has begun to raise awareness for mental health issues and rates of suicide. Kojo’s statement led me to the realization that friendship and social connections in London allow people to find solace in times of distress.
I received a different answer from my friend, Ali, a University of London student. She told me that London emphasizes a blend of cultures, and that it is important for people to preserve and respect others traditions. For example, she talked to me about events such as the Notting hill Carnival, which is one of Europe’s most popular street festivals. We discussed the culture, artwork, food, and music that thrives in different boroughs of London. Overall, she told me that these traditions were important to cherish and take part in because many people had become isolated following the pandemic. This was exacerbated further by Brexit, which many of her friends and young Londoners opposed. Brexit would diminish the ability for new cultures to flourish, as it became more difficult for immigrants to achieve financial success in the bustling city center. Her statement further exemplified the extent to which building connections in the community is necessary for young people to come together, especially following the long period of seclusion during lockdown.