Youngsters work together to understand migrants’ journey

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Pupils from schools across Swansea have been discovering the ways people learn how to belong in our community in a series of special events organised by Swansea University, in conjunction with Swansea Museum’s One Swansea exhibition.

The University’s Centre for Migration Policy Research brought Journey | Settlement | Home to the museum, a pair of day-long events which saw pupils exploring the experiences of migrants to Wales and how they find homes and community here.

Nearly 150 children aged from 10 to 14 from Parkland Primary School, Bishop Vaughan Catholic School, St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School and Ysgol Gymraeg Bryn y Môr took part in the two-day workshop.

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One of the activities in full flow at Swansea Museum.

They joined in a diverse range of activities, led by Howard Ingham and Dr Sergei Shubin from Swansea University, which also involved several community organisations including Swansea City of Sanctuary, Circus Eruption, dance and movement company Draig Tân Productions, Dr Gwennan Higham and local artist Simeon Smith.

The enthusiastic pupils and teachers used the arts to tell the stories of how and why people come to the UK from different countries and what they find when they get here.

300 x 369ositive feedback after the event praised it for not only supporting the school curriculum, but also encouraging young people to rethink attitudes to migrants and helping them to develop new perspectives on the impacts of migration on local communities.

 One of the youngsters taking part in the workshop.

Cerian Appleby, Year Five teacher at St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School, said:

“Our pupils thoroughly enjoyed taking part and it fitted in so beautifully with our own school project which also revolved around the themes of journey, settlement and migration.

“It was fascinating to see how the children interacted in the different workshops and engaged with the activities and each other.

“In particular it was very insightful when a child in the class, who has settled here from Egypt, talked about he was persecuted because of his faith, the reasons his family migrated to Swansea and how he felt when this happened.”

Dr Shubin explained that these events have helped continue to forge links between the university and different communities in Swansea.  

The workshops followed on from the Journeys exhibition and Make It Happen community activities, a successful series of similar events held in Scotland, and a part of the Social Support and Migration in Scotland (SSAMIS) project.

Dr Shubin said:

“The key aim of the SSAMIS project is to give voice to migrants and generate new thinking about migration through Participatory Action Research.

“We are delighted about the enthusiasm and fantastic contribution to co-producing and delivering community engagement events from everyone involved in the project.

“We hope that by sharing migrant knowledge we can improve awareness about their contributions and encourage long-term behavioural change for migrant integration.”

SSAMIS is collaboration between Swansea and Glasgow universities which explores the experiences of migrants from Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union in the UK to generate new thinking about migration through public engagement, improve community cohesion and encourage behavioural change for migrant integration.

The University is now hosting a special event at Taliesin Arts Centre on Thursday 28 June when collaborators involved in the project will be given a chance to see a short film detailing the engagement activities.

Set to be opened by Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Martin Stringer, it will summarise research developed during the SSAMIS project and celebrate the collaboration with Swansea Museum and its community engagement activities.

To demonstrate this and the ongoing partnerships with schools, the event will showcase the Journey exhibition developed in collaboration with St Joseph Cathedral Primary School and local artists Bill Taylor-Beales and Mandy Lane which was previously displayed at Tate Modern Gallery in London.

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