Amrit Kaur is a singer-songwriter and Sarangi player, who tours internationally as a performer, composer and workshop facilitator. She is an experienced youth worker; trained as a theatre director at the Young Vic Theatre; and is a Global Youth Ambassador for ‘A World at School’. Most recently, she founded Humanised, a social enterprise dedicated to humanising history through the Arts.
And, on top of all that, she is a SOAS graduate, having studied both BA History and MA History at SOAS University of London.
What first got you interested in studying History?
I have always been fascinated with the past, but my involvement with history was redefined for me on a trip to Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland when I was 16 for ‘The Lessons from Auschwitz Project’ by the Holocaust Educational Trust. I became an ambassador for them and met many Holocaust and Rwandan genocide survivors. We went around schools to teach the dangers of discrimination, emphasising individual stories of real people just like us. It was the first time that history and social activism merged for me. I felt its power and knew this idea of humanising history could be replicated for other histories, including my own.
What inspired you to start Humanised?
By the time I finished my BA and began my MA, I was a passionate historian; a touring musician; an experienced youth worker; I had just completed training at Young Vic as a theatre director; and I was an ambassador for various charities that championed causes I really cared about. So, instead of trying to pick one thing to pursue, I decided to put all of them together and set up a social enterprise – Humanised. I had been a youth worker and educator for several different companies, and recognised a gap that none of them were really addressing. Humanised uses experiential learning activities with the use of music, theatre and games to educate young people and wider communities across the world, about society and history.
We encourage people to engage with historical evidence and archives and think critically – and ultimately humanise our stories.
Can you describe a typical working day?
Every day is different. Some days are spent researching; others are spent working with other artists and entrepreneurs; and, when I am not planning, I am writing music, recording, rehearsing and performing – managing a music career! I still coach and mentor regularly both in the UK and on international programmes. This work keeps me grounded and makes me a better educator. I learn so much from younger students: their perspective is invaluable and I get to keep up with the latest slang and music trends!
What would be your advice to a prospective student considering studying History?
Know that at SOAS you are not only a student, you are also a teacher. SOAS students and teachers are all eager to learn. And we all have something to share.
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