BBC’s Alagiah talks about life as an immigrant

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BBC newsreader and foreign correspondent George Alagiah visited Culford School to talk to students and scholars about his journey as an immigrant in Britain.

George spoke to a packed auditorium on Friday about growing up as an immigrant and how he managed to become a leading journalist in the BBC.

He spoke of his life growing up in Sri Lanka and later Ghana in Africa and of the troubles he faced when he moved to Britain and started school at a Catholic boarding school in Portsmouth.

The talk was based around his book ‘A Home from Home’ which tries to tackle issues of immigration and multiculturalism from the point of view of a post-immigrant Englishman.

Speaking before his presentation, he emphasised how multiculturalism had let down many immigrants in Britain.

He said: “The talk is a mix, part biographical, about my journey in Britain and what it has been like as an immigrant here.

“I feel multiculturalism in the way it was implemented has let down many immigrants and I wanted to explore that.

“I wanted to talk about the subject not through the screaming headlines but just tell the story how it is.

“There isn’t immigration in Britain just for the sake of it, our society has been enriched by it but this sometimes is forgotten.

“The idea that immigrants come here empty handed is not true, you only have to look at our high streets to see it.

“Every single corner shop you see is also a reminder of this fact.

My talk is not an argument against immigration – this is a defence of immigrants like me.

“In a place like Suffolk the influence and changes in immigration are not that obvious to see.

“I want these young people to understand the issues involved and to be able to talk about it.”

George said he had reported on some momentous stories in his career but the events and long lasting effects of September 11, 2001, were still the most significant.

He said: “I was there two or three days after 9/11 in Manhatten and saw this convulsion from a country that believed itself to be invincible.

“We are still living through the impact from that day even now ten years later.

“It changed their relationship with the world.”