Migration Stories – Cultural Exchange Project initiated by Univ. of Gloucestershire at Museum in the Park

A week to go! 12th November 2017 from 10.30 am!

So happy to be part of this and to support an excellent project!

Migration Stories / A Cultural Exchange which celebrates the diversity and the powerful cultural impact of our migrants’ stories and experiences.

Spoken languages can both unite and separate human kind. Through education we can learn to speak other languages and this entitles us to appreciate cultures around us. However, linguistics alone are just one conduit of understanding – our sense of what is to be human in the world is also built on non-linguistic cultural experiences – we learn through stories, legends, music, food, dance, festivals, artefacts and images.‘ (Excerpt from Daniel Barenboim, on the 16th July 2017, in an impromptu speech at the Proms Albert Hall.)

Photograph: ©John Stadnicki

12th November 2017 at Museum in the Park, Stroud, Gloucestershire is the first part of a beautiful cultural project which will continue and will develop over the next three months.

The workshop will start at 10.30am at Museum in the Park and will bring together narrators, MA illustrators, poets, writers and photographers.

At 11am we will invite illustrators, photographers, writers, students to listen and to be inspired by the unique stories and memories of those who have experienced the joy, the pain, the comic, the humane journey of those, amongst us, arrived from somewhere else.

The narrators Anita Roy, Dolores Phelps, Maria Stadnicka, Fumio Obata, Ro Saul, John Stadnicki will tell us their memories.

Lunch time – bring and share food from our own heritage

Photograph: © John Stadnicki ‘Portrait – Mr. Sova’

The afternoon will create opportunities for smaller groups to discuss in detail elements of the stories and will begin to consolidate ideas for creative responses.

The creative responses will be completed by  6th December 2017 and a small dedicated team will produce a beautiful new Riso book, ready for the launch on the 22nd of January 2018.

Partners involved: University of Gloucestershire, University of Winchester, SGS Stroud College, Museum in the Park, Stroud, Gloucestershire.

We are looking forward to your participation and contribution!

 

 

The next event will on the 22nd November 2017 at Museum in the Park, Stroud, Gloucestershire: 

Chaired by Dolores Phelps, MPhil/PhD Researcher, Illustration

9.30 Coffee and introductions

10am start

Introduction by Dolores Phelps and Jen Whiskerd

10.15 Presentation by Andrew Melrose

10.45 Presentation by Adelaide Morris

11.15 Presentation by Olivier Kugler

12.00 Lunch

1.00 Presentation by Fumio Obata

1.30 Presentation by Dolores Phelps

2.00 Presentation by TBA OR Panel discussion

2.30 Panel discussion/Q&A – Olivier, Adelaide, Andrew

3pm Closing remarks.

3.30 Close

Come along and get involved!

 

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Borders? I have seen one.

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Photo: ‘Border’, Maria Stadnicka, 12-September-2015

As the refugees’ crisis is widening across Europe, the public opinion becomes more polarised, with people supporting the Schengen agreement for settlement whilst others oppose the migration from the Middle East and Africa. In England, my decision to collect and deliver donations to Calais has been welcomed and facilitated by family, friends and work colleagues on one side, and criticised on another side on social media by a few online acquaintances which disagree with the idea of personal intervention in a problem that should be left to the international political factors. And this is how, on the way to Calais, the concept of ‘border’ started to emerge in my mind as my new British passport was scanned at Dover. Watching the ferry depart I thought of Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian ethnographer which summarised a valid point on this matter. ‘Borders? I have never seen one. But I have heard they exist in the minds of some people.’

With this is mind, I entered the refugees’ camp in Calais on Saturday and observed the difficult living conditions of thousands of mostly young men, lucky enough to have walked or travelled for weeks in search of stability and peace. Dreaming maybe to be accepted in Britain whilst waiting for help from a country which they see a promoter of fairness and humanity. Some have been there for months, others just weeks.

Thousands of tents were spread across the camp but there were people still living in cardboard shelters, in flip-flops and T-shirts with autumn coming and the rain slowly settling in during the next months. People I met looked at me with curiosity and friendliness. One welcomed me and asked if I had a good night on the way there. Another asked for a pair of shoes or trousers. And more and more slowly surrounded the van. But having just fifty boxes of supplies in the van made the distribution impossible. What about the people in need of supplies, which could not communicate in English, nor French, could not ask, could not arrive at the van, could not reach for my help?

People living in the camp need help and support, and donations are slowly going and are being distributed by very few charities and private companies as well as volunteers and locals. Packing and then safely and equally distributing food, clothing and other necessary materials to thousands of people is a process which takes time and logistics. This positive action can only be successfully delivered before winter comes with more help from volunteers and strong support from the international community. As the European budget is spent on numerous emergency summits, the conflict between decisional factors becomes apparent and the people involved in helping the refugees in Calais get a sense that the governments have no real understanding of what needs to be done on the ground.

The governments do not have understanding. But governments, with their complicated power structures, are not people. They are, at this point, the borders. Those volunteers spending their time and resources, dedicated night and day to help the refugees are my example of humanity as well as my hope. I have heard their names (Riaz, Maya, Christiane, Vincent, Clare, Toby) and their voices on the phone helping me help others. I have not seen their faces, nor their colour, but I have seen their actions, their beliefs and values, which made me write this to ask for yours.

 

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Photo: Volunteers receiving donations for Calais refugees, John Stadnicki