Over the last year a number of our undergraduate students at ULIP have been involved in supporting the work of the Paris Centre for Migrant Writing and Expression.
Under the guidance of Director of Research, Dr Anna-Louise Milne, students have been assisting at the regular translation workshops run by the Centre, giving the migrants and asylum seekers who attend them the opportunity to practise their English language skills.
We asked one of those students, Andrew Morgan, to reflect on his experiences at these workshops over the last few months.
Immigrant, foreign, unwanted, terrorist, refugee. These words are often used when we think of an outsider coming into our country and into our cities. We often forget the human spirit that is within everybody and we stick to labelling them and not actually letting their voices be heard.
Recently students at ULIP were given the opportunity to abolish these stereotypes and to give something back. After being involved with translation workshops with academic staff in the Institute’s upstairs classrooms, the group of refugees - all coming from numerous different backgrounds - would descend into the ULIP student basement and enjoy a cup of English tea.
The goal? Allowing the refugees to interact with the British people first hand, allowing them to practise the English that they are learning. In return what do the students achieve? Personally, speaking I would say gratitude; in this world today we take things for granted because they are given to us so easily, we have this sort of self-righteous expectation that we deserve everything. Listening to some of the stories from the refugees was a massive eye opener, the paths that they have taken and the distances they travelled just to get to somewhere that they can call safe, somewhere that they can call home.
ULIP students embraced this experiences with open arms and have strived to get more involved when possible. The age old ‘British tea-time’ was a delight for all and made people more aware of the current situation of thousands of people around the world. We are all different but we are all human.