Due to Covid 19, the gallery, along with all event spaces on our campuses, is closed. Here is a preview of our next exhibition, which is linked to International Refugee Week 15 - 19 June 2020 and USW University of Sanctuary Status.
My idea was to partner Syrian and Sundanese refugees, who have been resettled in the Pontypridd area, with local English speakers, including some of our TESOL students, in a series of creative writing workshops. I wanted to build on the work of Dr Mike Chick, and others, who are dedicated to finding innovative ways to assist the refugees with the acquisition of language skills.
More and more of my work links creative writing and wellbeing. It seemed there would be no better way to add value than to help people write poetry as part of their language development.
How wrong I was.
Over five weeks, participants were given prompts in the form of games and activities to explore themes of celebration, food and friendship. The partners exchanged their stories. And something unexpected happened. The partners became friends.
Every week as people entered the room with smiles and greetings, the importance of creating poetry receded while I witnessed and took part in something much more valuable: the understanding of each other’s cultures and the break down of barriers. Everyone involved grew in confidence and expressed themselves ever more comfortably. For my part, I was reminded that no matter how different our roots, cultures or faiths are, we are all very much the same.
The group worked with visual artists, student sound technicians and a photojournalism student to produce an exhibition, which showcases the achievements of the project. Speak to me… is funded by Literature Wales’ Literature for Wellbeing Fund and USW through English Research funding.
List of Participants:
Fooda Al-Ali Firas Almaghribi Nisreen Almaghiribi Batoul Al-Numeiri
Omar Al-Numeiri Hamza Al-Numeiri Hoda Alsayed Abdul Anees
Mohammad Anees Renda Kojo Idres Mahmoud Maya Mzyan
Adam Almaghirbi Rosa Almaghirbi Yara Almaghiribi
Four years ago R.C.T County Borough Council gave us a beautiful gift - the privilege of welcoming and supporting 50 refugees from conflicts in Syria and Sudan. Devastated lives, shattered dreams, hearts stripped of hope, with at first, no English words to ask about this strange new country or express their fears and confusion.
Growing to know and love each other has taught me so much about the resilience of the human spirit. They have enriched my life, broadened my horizons.
Sharing tears, laughter and stories, together we now have a renewed hope - the glimpse of a new horizon.
List of Volunteers
Ellie Baker Jason Glover Cerys Jones Ladislav Pecha
Naomi Preston Agata Szefler Megan Roberts Jackie Sprinks
Michael Todd Nerys Todd Rick Wilson Eleri McConnell
Alice Todd Jessica Todd
Marina Iodice Robert Oros
Magdelana Ploskonkova Victorial Szabo Natasha Sethi Dingni Wu
Arhantika Rebello Louise Richards Barrie Llewelyn Robert Oros
The amazing Beverley Humphreys Dr Mike Chick Steve Johnson
Special thanks to
The Chaplaincy at The Meeting House Debenhams, Cardiff Jane Finucane Taylor Hebert
Naomi Preston Chris Nurse Peter Lambern