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Who's Who - Denis Lelin, Activities Officer (UoN SU)

The "Who's Who" series focuses on introducing you to key members of the International Student Mental Health project. Today we're talking to Denis Lelin who as Activities Officer at the University of Nottingham Students Union and a senior member of the project.

Tell us a bit about yourself

Hi all!

I’m Denis Lelin (he/him). I was born and raised at Russian Far East, in a small shore town, Nakhodka. I was trained to be a professional dancesport athlete which led to me relocating to Moscow at the age of 12 and then moving to Denmark when I was 14. At that point I have already become Russian Champion in Dancesport twice and even won Children’s Asian Games.

I finished my International Baccalaureate (IB) in Denmark and half way through my diploma programme I decided that becoming a professional dancer wasn’t for me and instead I focused myself on getting into a University. As a result, I now have finished my Politics and IR degree at the University of Nottingham, which culminated with me being elected into my current role – UoNSU Activities Officer.

As a student I was involved in lots of things outside of my degree, including our Dance Society, Cheer Club, Fundraising Organisation/RaG, Welcome Programme and the Global Buddies scheme. Additionally, last year I was our part-time International Students’ Officer and that’s how I got involved with the project in the first place.

What do you do?

As the current Activities Officer at UoNSU, I support the liaison of the project with our student groups, including various cultural and faith societies. Moreover, I contribute towards one of the aspects of the projects, specifically student groups initiative funding. In addition, I am one of the representatives from my organisation on the national project board where I feedback on the progress at UoNSU with regards to the project and provide personal insight to what it is like to have been an international student myself.

Lastly, in my previous role as the International Students Officer, I conducted a few pieces of research and recruited students for the focus groups that fed into this project. I also had a partial oversight of the Global Buddies programme which has provided a lot of insight to the international life at UoN.

Why did you get involved in the project?

Being an international student myself and having been immersed in several foreign cultures has definitely shaped my experience throughout my education, not only at the University level but even before. I am very familiar with the experiences of culture shock and conflicting cultural identities, not to mention the language barrier and prejudices I’ve witnessed for the last 8 years. So I wanted to ensure that these barriers are as minimal as possible for the students at my university.

Additionally, in my previous role as International Officer – providing support for international students was an integral part of my manifesto. I then was in the position to reach out to a lot of international students and gather their experience to ensure we capture as many voices as possible when working on the project – and I believe this contribution was very helpful for our progression.

Tell us about your header photo

This photo captures me opening International Ball 2020, the last large event at UoNSU that took place in person before the first national lockdown. We had over 300 students attending with lots of cultural performances, diverse buffet, and even a stand with henna tattoos. I am so extremely proud and happy that we were able to celebrate our cultural diversity as one of the last things together as the International Community at the University of Nottingham.


Working in Partnership The project is nation-wide and we're making a real effort to engage with everyone interested in international student mental health, including universities, mental health services, students unions, sector bodies, charities and organisations such a private student accommodation. The project is led by the University of Nottingham, in partnership with the University of Nottingham Students' Union, University of Leeds, Leeds University Union, SOAS, SOAS Students' Union, Student Minds and Campuslife Ltd.

Project funded as part of the Office for Students Mental Health Challenge Competition.

Photo Credits Owned by Denis Lelin

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