London: A city of 300 Languages

This morning we attended a lecture by Dan Wheatley, on multiculturalism in the UK. And while the last couple days we have been surrounded by people of all backgrounds and cultures in the city, the rest of this beautiful island has undertones of British superiority and populism. Much like in America, some of the working class people here are afraid of big corporations, open borders, and losing their way of life. Proof of this is the recent “Brexit” vote where Great Britain left the European Union, which in theory would help small business and more importantly, the “true Englishman”. However, Mr. Wheatley goes on to ask, what is a “true Englishman”? Because so much of Great Britain’s history is expanding through military conquest the blood of so many Brits today is full of different heritages and most are some sort of mixture of backgrounds. This place was built and fortified through immigration, spanning all the way back to roman rule. Even the Royal family has german heritage, and I’m not sure how much more English you can get than the Royal Family.

I experienced London’s diversity first hand after leaving the classroom and walking the streets with Trevor and Chris. I believe just the two pictures below will show you how different people can be.

The first, a classic Brit. Clean suit, proud posture, and clearly intelligent, this was Dan Wheatley. And the second, a man whose name I didn’t catch, but I will surely never forget. He was a street performer who covered himself in only the British flag, down to his nipples. But this man, clearly different from Mr. Wheatley, was an Englishman through and through and loved his country. Who can say who was the “true Englishman”?

I continued with my mates on to China Town.

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We stopped in a restaurant to escape the pouring rain looked over the menu. The good thing about Chinese food is that it doesn’t really change country to country (or so I thought) so I ordered myself the sweet and sour chicken. My chicken was full of small bones and cartilage so I had to spit out about half of my meal, but I laughed it off and enjoyed the unique experience.

I think that is exactly what Mr. Wheatley wants to save in this place. The cultural experience one can have in this city is astounding and should be celebrated, not attacked. In fact diversity creates a stronger nation, just look at British history.  The height of the British Empire was when diversity was highest, and that’s no coincidence. Populism in Britain will only lead to exclusion and missed opportunity for better trade and relations with other countries. And clearly they need some new trade partners for chicken without bones in every bite.

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