Year 10 students at Lisneal College were the first participants in this year’s Discover-Connect-Belong’s project delivered by the North West Migrants Forum.
Discover-Connect-Belong Project is funded under the European Union's Peace IV Programme; “Youth Let’s Talk Cultural Diversity’
Sixty students took part in Monday’s session under the guidance of facilitators from the North West Migrants Forum and took part in a series of workshops, talk sessions and other cultural activities. Opening the session, Lilian Seenoi-Barr, Director of Programmes, North West Migrants Forum said it was important to roll out these projects across all spheres of life and believed this should include our schools – both primary and secondary.
“Our programmes extend to all section of communities. I believe that an inclusive society can only be achieved if communities work together to resolve the issues that impacts on them. Our intention is to encourage young people to engage with the big issues that impact on them and communities today. It is important to engage with young people and listen to their viewpoints, ideas and perspectives on expression of culture, religion, politics, and how-to bring communities together.
Today’s event at Lisneal College saw intercultural dialogue workshops that introduced culture, identity, politics, communities and tribes in Northern Ireland. Some of the workshops were funded by the Communities Foundation of Northern Ireland with a number of the facilitators and cultural ambassadors coming from the refugee and asylum seekers communities. Facilitations like these enhance cross-cultural training and aid integration by building social and cultural bridges with all involved.
Through the various workshops in the schools this will help utilize an intercultural dialogue model in discussing the human stories behind refugees’ life experiences and help build capacity and capabilities of the refugees. Facilitators used personal stories, life experiences and told of their journeys as migrants and refugees coming to the Northern Ireland setting. They also talked about food, clothes, jewellery , personal fitness among other things. Speaking after the event, Lisneal College Principal Michael Allen, commented:
“Lisneal College pupils were delighted to welcome North West Migrants Forum education ambassadors to the school on Monday morning.
The year 10 pupils enjoyed participating in interactive workshops where they had the opportunity to learn about new cultures and ask questions relating to the challenges of moving and living in a new country. Our pupils enjoyed the workshop so much that twelve of them have applied to become Cultural Ambassadors for the school.”
Ms. Seenoi-Barr, in thanking Lisneal for accommodating the first session in the programme being rolled out to schools this year, said: “A big thank you to Michael Allen and his fantastic staff for all their help in facilitating us at the school on Monday morning and for taking diversity issues seriously enough to add it to their school calendar.’
There are almost a dozen second level schools and colleges signed up to part in this year’s programme, with St. Columb’s College and Holy Cross, Strabane lined up next.