On the same day Britain voted brexit, I received an offer to join ICAN as their back-end developer. As a European Union citizen living in the UK that day was a mixed-feelings day. On one hand, I had received the opportunity to join this company, which was great from a personal point of view. But when I opened the frame to get a big long shot it was quite a sad day, really. Especially because one of the strongest arguments of the leave campaign was blaming us, immigrants, on all the problems of the UK. And voters seemed to agree with that.
After a closer look at the results, one realises that those places where the leave vote won, were mainly rural areas in Wales and industrial areas and England that suffered the de-industrialisation during the Margaret Thatcher’s rule. Areas where the impact and the benefits of immigration and multiculturalism are not the rule, but the exception.
In this case, as in many other aspects, Scotland was different: bremain was the majority. According to analysts the reason for this sense of the vote was, among other reasons, because Scottish know and appreciate the positive impact that foreigners have in their economy and their society. And I am not only speaking of unqualified jobs such as cleaners, cashiers, or waiters. Scottish universities are also a good example of this multicultural interchange. For example, when I was studying Computing Science at the University of Glasgow, half of my class were foreigners. This diversity was not restricted only to students. Lecturers also came from many different parts of the globe: Australia, Brazil, Italy, France, Russia, USA… to name a just a few.
It was the same during my two summer internships at a research group there. My supervisor was from Kyrgyzstan, the project leader was British, but born in Zimbabwe and risen in Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Australia. The other two members of the team were from Iran and Scotland. Yet the project -funded by the European Commission- involved companies and universities in England, Sweden, Greece and France, counting more than 15 different nationalities, from all over the world, amongst the different teams.
ICAN Future Star is also a good example of this positive impact of immigration and multiculturalism in Britain. Founded by a Chinese and an Italian, with a staff from different Asian and European countries, and targeting the international students who want to study in the UK, the company looks like a small Tower of Babel. However, rather than causing confusion and diaspora, this diversity brings cohesion and helps the development of a well-rounded product. Indeed, at the company we are, or have been, foreign students in the UK. Thus, bringing forward our own experiences and different points of view, generated by our own backgrounds, we are in a stronger position to offer a high-quality product: because we know how studying abroad is like, and we know it from many different perspectives.
However, to me that is not the most important. The real good thing about working in a multicultural team is the opportunity it brings to learn more about other cultures, other languages and other ways of doing things. Because people can spend their lives without going further than their backyards. But looking at what is beyond the fence is much more fun. And definitely, multiculturalism at ICAN Future Star not only shapes a good product, but also shapes better people.