Bringing together researchers, practitioners and policy makers working with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland
A music festival I attended a few years ago had a very catchy tagline: ‘A festival like a holiday’. It sounded just right for a weekend of escaping our daily routine and stress-filled lives by immersing in nature, art and friendship. Years later, this phrase came back and stayed with me while attending the second edition of UNESCO Spring School, which took place between 1st and 3rd of May 2019, at Heart of Scotstoun Community Centre in Glasgow. Three amazing days of conversations, presentations, performances, workshops, films, ideas and projects driven by love and care for ourselves and each other, are the basis for this article and many others to come on this blog. Stay tuned for more and read below the first set of takeaways and reflections on UNESCO Spring School – Day 1.
DAY 1 – Celebration of Labouring and Resting
After holding its first edition in the Southside, at Pearce Institute in Govan and Kinning Park Complex, the UNESCO Spring School no. 2 ventured North of the Clyde in Scotstoun. The Heart of Scotstoun Community Centre hosted us, opening some of its brightly lit rooms, terrace and kitchen to all delegates.
The theme of this year’s Spring School focused on the arts of ‘labouring and resting.’ What is the work of integrating, who does it and how? How do new forms emerge and how are the old, precious forms of culture, art and language shared? How do languages shift and adapt, how do people learn new languages and translanguage? What does it mean to make culture, food, art in a new place, or with new people as part of integration?
This range of questions and provocations led to a multi-disciplinary approach from within and beyond academia, to reflect on and showcase the ways in which individuals, communities, societies and institutions have accommodated and hosted each other and reflect on the ways in which the arts and academic research offer insights into the processes of welcome and integration.
Amal Azzudin: Social Change through the Arts
The first day began with an energising introduction by Tawona Sitolé, followed by the keynote presentation by Amal Azzudin, one of the Glasgow Girls, campaigner and activist as well as the Human Rights and Equalities officer working with refugees at the Mental Health Foundation. She was introduced by Euan Girvan, one of her former teachers at Drumchapel High, who supported and encouraged the Glasgow Girls to form and reach visibility in mainstream media.
— UofG Unesco RILA (@UofGUnescoRILA) May 1, 2019
Jamie Spurway – Interpreting Culture: Improving Cross-Cultural Communication
The next workshop held by Jamie Spurway, a trainer, facilitator and public speaker provoked engaging debates and questions about communicating and interpreting cultures. Here are some of the key discussion points.
After a delicious (and spicy) lunch provided by Küche, the first day continued with a variety of projects that combine artistic practice, research and participation which articulate and express the work of integration of asylum/refugee and migrant experience in different countries.
While waiting for the no. 2 bus back to the city centre, I looked at my left hand covered in green-blue spray paint, at the (too few) photos taken with my phone’s camera and felt hopeless about being able to put into words what I’ve learned, felt and accumulated during this first day of UNESCO Spring School 2019. In the meantime, I’ll contribute with some takeaways, I’ll share clips, images and thoughts that echoed around the web and I invite any other comments and reflections on your experience.
Report written by Alexandra Colta. Get in touch if you want to share your thoughts on the UNESCO Spring School 2019!