Riad Yagoubi, Research Postgraduate, Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction

Part of Shifting the Lens: A celebration of cultural diversity at Imperial

“When I was in primary school, I always felt different. A lot of other people thought I was weird because I knew Arabic/Algerian. There’s very much the stereotype in France that if you speak Arabic or Algerian Arabic you haven’t adapted enough to French society or can’t speak French very well. As a result, I felt quite alone a lot.

“In France, you are allocated a high school based on location, but I was able to choose my high school because I had good results. But I felt different as most of my fellow students were the sons of politicians and doctors, and my background was completely different.

“I was the only one with an Arab name. One teacher once said to me: “how are you the only Arab student here? Are you sure you got good results?” I realised then that I needed to fight clichés and that my name would always create a certain image in people’s minds.

“I did, however, study Ancient Greek in high school – this was good for me because that’s where I discovered that the languages I already knew helped me to learn new languages better! The fact that my mum gave me so much knowledge helped me during my A-levels as I chose to study music and Greek.”

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