Radio programme will go here
- Learning Space 6: Public Art Exhibition, Secondary School, Radio
8.1.1 Tent (Kerry)
In one of the in-class planning sessions for the art exhibition, Kerry talked about what really grabbed the attention of her fifth year art class. She said that her pupils were really struck by the ages of some of Arba’s children, who, born in 2001, were similar in age to themselves. This “really struck them”, she said. She also talked about how she was struck by one of her student’s description of how he imagined the family flight from their home in Sinjar to the Bersive camp in the north of Iraq. The pupil had said “I see him on top of a mountain but looking back on his house”. I noted too that this was exactly what struck me when I first spoke to Arba about his journey. I had seen this almost biblical image on TV of the flight of Yazidis people and I wondered if perhaps the young person in Kerry’s class had seen similar images, and had subliminally taken them in and associated them with Arba’s journey. This led to a discussion on the possible creation in-class of a long scroll, which also had, as Kerry said, a “biblical feel”.
In the end her class decided to make a tent which was the same size – 3×2.4 meters – as the tent in which the Arba family lived, all ten of them. Kerry spoke in class about how enthusiastic her group were, how they had been researching the Yazidis genocide and how they had been taking the project very seriously. In the classroom I asked if they had been exploring the reasons for the forced displacement of this population. Kerry said yes, but I noted in field notes that I did not have a strong sense that she herself had moved from empathy and compassion to seeking deeper knowledge such as the causes of the genocide or even of broader human rights issues.
8.1.1 Class radio
Nevertheless, when I interviewed her fifth year class at their school, and saw the tent, it was clear that she had facilitated her students to do so. During the interview, the students told the story of the Arba family. They explained for instance that the family had been displaced in their own country, Iraq, and forced to move to the safety of the camp in the northern part of the country. They described the journey and how the family “escaped over mountains and lived in the tent for years”. They told the story of the family; “it’s Arba and his wife and they’ve got one boy who was at the age of four, so it’s A, K, and Y, that’s the baby. K is the housewife. The family live with his seven brothers and sisters”.
Another gave the story of the Yazidi people:
The Yazidi people are a Kurdish-speaking religious ethnicity from Northern Iraq. They are Islamic, but they are being persecuted by the ISIS because they believe that the world is ruled by seven angles. The most important – the leader of those angels is the Peacock angel, which is often mistaken with the equiVeraent of Lucifer, which would be the Fallen Angel. ISIS believes that the Yazidi believe in the Devil, which would be the Devil, but to them, he’s not the Devil, he is a fallen angel, but he’s not the Devil because they don’t believe in hell, so he could never be the Devil. That’s the main reason why they’re being followed and persecuted by the ISIS.
Still on radio, another explained that they had been introduced to the family by their teacher and that “before she introduced it to us, none of us really knew anything about it”. “She brought it to us and brought the idea to us and we decided that we would do a tent. We would make a tent out of whatever materials we could find to represent what he was going through”. Showing me around the tent, one student proudly described its dimensions and how ten of the class had gone inside to feel what it felt like as ten people. She described conditions in the camp:
… there are thousands of people living there. Obviously the conditions are bad. […] They share bathrooms. They cannot cook for themselves or live a proper life. There’s no education or school. Arba is actually trying to teach the children. I know that they’re separated from the ISIS by a normal fence, which is not helping them at all. They’re constantly living in fear of being attacked again, or even killed. I know that here is a lot of women who have been taken, and children, by the ISIS before. They’re living in constant fear in small tents with a lot of people and basically nothing they can do.
The class lay down in the tent and as one student said “lying down, so they know how it feels to be stuck with a load of people and not being able to turn and stuff”. Another student also referred to the team work which developed as they worked together.
The young people went on to explain how they had been struck by the fact that there were people living there who are the same age as they are, born in 2000. “We have to consider that we are lucky because being the same age, we have more possibilities, we have a home here, we can eat when we want or drink, we have education and everything. While there are people of our age in other parts of the world who are suffering, and they have to share bathrooms. They don’t have a private room, or they have to sleep every night with other nine people”. They also saw the importance of education in terms of the general public. “First of all, people don’t know about these problems because no one thinks about it if no one tells us. The fact that we are already working on it, it’s good. I think people should start thinking about other problems around the world. We’re just here living our lives without thinking about it”
In terms of refugee protection in Ireland and Europe, one student spoke about the common European Asylum system saying, “it does protect the rights of the asylum seekers and the refugees. However, not all EU states comply to these rules and they don’t operate fairly. The laws are meant to set out the minimum standards and the procedures for processing and deciding on the asylum applications”. He said the Ireland was not “doing its bit in terms of taking in refugees”. When asked what they would like listeners to do is “to spread the word and let as many people know as possible about the injustice that’s going on in Iraq, to the Yazidi people, and support them in any way that they can really. One student said, “one thing I think people would really like to see is change in the laws in Ireland, to allow these refugees to seek asylum in our country”.
The young people were looking forward to the Glucksman exhibition, none of them had ever had an exhibit at an exhibition and they were excited by the opportunity. At the end of the radio show, when asked to give one or two words on how the project had impacted on them they used the following words: “shocking and appalling really; upsetting, very upsetting; helpful and compassionate; disgust and anger; anger; overwhelming and disappointed; hurtful; anxiety and fear; interesting in another way; contemplative and lucky; change and thoughtful; bothering and awareness; action and social justice; motivated, like to do something”.
On the radio show too, their art teacher, Kerry, talked about the use of this story in teaching about human rights. She talked about how well the students responded and how the “piece of the story that really captured their imagination” was that some members of the family were born in 2000. This she said really motivated them to participate in the project. In addition the fact that Arba’s brother, their own age, could not go to school. “They took their education for granted”, she said. “When they heard that he was in the tent for the last four years. That he didn’t have the opportunity that they had because of his religion. It really brought home for them, I think, the injustice that others suffer”.
Finally, on the subject of learning about human rights through art, Kerry said “I think it is because at that age, in the classroom, they don’t yet have the words. We’ll say, art is a very personal response. It’s a way of making it a subject that might be very emotive or tricky to cover in a class. Art is a very nice way”.
TGH June 5, 2018 Yazidies and Rohingya
Audio Length: 00:55:34
Audio Quality: Good
Number of Interviewers: 1
Number of Interviewees: 8
Start of Audio
Gertrude: Yes, Aidan. This year, we concentrate on the creative arts and particularly students who were studying at the Crawford College of Art and Design. I’d just like to say, as well, that we’re very grateful to the Crawford College of Art, specifically Susan Broderick and Mark Staff there, who really supported this. It’s been a very positive experience. As I said, we were concentrating on the creative arts, so a lot of the students who came this year had an art background, so they were artists in their own right. They were obviously teaching in the second level classroom.
They each picked themes, development education themes, like the refugee crisis, our homelessness, our sustainable development. In fact, one of them did the impact of tourism in Southeast Asia with their class. They all worked with their second-level students and the second-level students produced artefacts, different types of artefacts. Very interesting artefacts, which we were very fortunate to be able to display and have an exhibition at the Glucksman Gallery.
Host: You went to Dona Rael and talked to some of the students in the Nagel Right secondary school who had prepared an exhibit for the Glucksman exhibition?
Gertrude: That’s right. It was just such a privilege to meet with them. Their teacher, Ms. O’Shea is one of our PME students. She was working with her class. The class made a tent. We put them in touch with a Yazidi family, which we’ll be hearing a bit about in a little while. This Yazidi family are living in a displaced persons’ camp in Northern Iraq. I went to the students in Dona Rael, in the classroom. We talked about their project and about the Yazidi situation. The first interview that we’re going to hear today is this classroom in Dona Rael talking about their experiences and what they learnt.
[Audio playback within interview playing: 00:04:38] Gertrude: Okay, so I’m here now with Ms. O’Shea.
Karen O Shea: I was thinking about why I took on this project. I have to really go back to Dr. Steven O’Brien. He’s lectures on polo-framing practices. The lectures were amazing. Everybody thought so. His explanation on teaching today shouldn’t be a top-down process and it should be more dialogue. That really resonated with me. I think the fact, let’s say, the global justice issue, bring it into the classroom. Obviously, dialogue is the way to go with bringing any issues into the classroom. I think it’s very important for us as educators, we’re responsible, really, because they’re hyper connected. In a society where they have information, they’re bombarded on their phones and on their computers with up to the minute news that’s happening in the world.
We need to be able to educate them on how to decipher this information and how to deal with this information. To give them a deeper understanding of what’s going on. It’s just hard to put it into words, really, but just to make them more informed and give them more, just a more informed stance. Maybe help them contribute more to society with that information. Have empathy for the injustice. There are other people suffering in the world. It isn’t all about them.
Gertrude: Yes. How do you think the class responded?
Karen: I think they responded really well. The story of Aziz and his prosecution of his family and the conditions that he’s living in, it’s a very emotive subject. It was very easy; the subject grabbed his straight away. It was very…
Gertrude: What do you think grabbed him about it?
Karen: Like I say, a piece of the story that really captured their imagination was the brother, Sha-ha, who was born in 2000. The fact that five of them were born in 2000. All the other facts I was telling them that I thought was even more important than that, it was that particular aspect of the story that just grabbed them. That was the piece of the information. It was a piece of the puzzle that really invested them, motivated them to take part in the project. It broadened their horizon, let’s say. It’s hard to put into words, but they were no longer thinking about themselves and what was happening on their phone or Kim Kardashian or whatever irrelevant information was going on.
The fact that this boy was the same age as them and he really couldn’t go to school. Even though, let’s say, they’re in school and they’re going through their motions and they’d obviously prefer to be at home. They took their education for granted when they heard that he was in the tent for the last four years. That he didn’t have the opportunity that they had because of his religion. It really brought home for them, I think, the injustice that others suffer.
Gertrude: Yes, it’s interesting, isn’t it? That thing about taking education for granted.
Karen: I did, yes. Even the global justice workshop we did in UCC. She said that when they had to run back to the tent, when they were in a rush, when they had to run home to collect whatever they had to collect, the last thing that they’d pick up before they’d leave, let’s say, there wasn’t someone at the door. There was someone at the gate, they were on the run, was their degree. Was their document showing their education up to now, that rang home with them. That really encapsulated the whole project for them. The fact that taking education for granted. It was one of the things that they keep coming back with every week.
Gertrude: That in itself is very significant. That’s very powerful. What do you think about art and social justice, global citizen sort of work? Do you think art is a good way in?
Speaker 1: I think it is because at that age, in the classroom, they don’t yet have the words. We’ll say, art is a very personal response. It’s a way of making it a subject that might be very emotive or tricky to cover in a class. Art is a very nice way.
Speaker 2: My name is Lin and we are the fifth-year class of Nagel secondary school. Our teacher is Ms. O’Shea and we’ve been working on the program of the tent.
Gertrude: You’ve been working on the program of the tent?
Speaker 2: Yes, we ruled the tent with refugees, especially for the family of Yazidi and they escaped from the place of their country. They escaped over mountains and lived in the tent for years.
Gertrude: Your name is?
Speaker 3: Renea.
Gertrude: Renea. Tell me about the Yazidi people you’ve been studying?
Speaker 3: The Yazidi people are a Kurdish-speaking religious ethnicity from Northern Iraq. They are Islamic, but they are being persecuted by the ISIS because they believe that the world is ruled by seven angles. The most important – the leader of those angels is the Peacock angel, which is often mistaken with the equivalent of Lucifer, which would be the Fallen Angel. ISIS believes that the Yazidi believe in the Devil, which would be the Devil, but to them, he’s not the Devil, he is a fallen angel, but he’s not the Devil because they don’t believe in hell, so he could never be the Devil. That’s the main reason why they’re being followed and persecuted by the ISIS.
Gertrude: How did this project come about, Alana? Alana, tell me?
Speaker 4: Well, we were introduced to it by our art teacher, Ms. O’Shea, and before she introduced it to us, none of us really knew anything about it. She brought it to us and brought the idea to us that we would do a project that would give people an idea of what was happening?
Gertrude: What was the project?
Speaker 4: We decided that we would do a tent. We would make a tent out of whatever materials we could find to represent what he was going through.
Gertrude: Who was that?
Speaker 4: Mr. Aziz.
Gertrude: What do you know about the family? Mr. Aziz and his family? For example, do you know anything about his journey or just about who’s in the family, how many children there are?
Speaker 5: Ella.
Gertrude: Ella, go for it.
Speaker 5: It’s Aziz and his wife and they’ve got I think one boy who was at the age of four, so it’s Aziz, Kalida, and Yolande, that’s the baby. Kalida is the housewife. His family with his brothers and sisters is seven people. They all live in a big tent.
Gertrude: How big is the tent? Which you’ve just shown me around. Do you know anything about where they had come from?
Speaker 5: They’re from Iraq but they were displaced.
Gertrude: Where are they living now? Where specifically? Do you know the name of the place?
Speaker 5: They are next to the mountain Shingal, and they’re in a camp with Persif One, that’s the specific name of the camp.
Gertrude: In the camp, do you know, well, maybe somebody else, something about the conditions of living there, or do you know how many people are living there? Do you know anything about the conditions in the camp? What’s your name?
Speaker 6: Laura.
Gertrude: Laura, do you know anything about what it’s like living there?
Speaker 6: It’s a refugee camp, basically, and there are thousands of people living there, obviously. The conditions are bad. We can see the tent, so there are no houses. They all live in a tent, up to ten people, even, in small tents. They share bathrooms. They cannot cook for themselves or live a proper life. There’s no education or school. Which Aziz is actually trying to teach the children because there’s an opportunity to. I know that they’re separated from the ISIS by a normal fence, which is not helping them at all. They’re constantly living in fear of being attacked again, or even killed. I know that there is a lot of women who have been taken, and children, by the ISIS before. They’re living in constant fear in small tents with a lot of people and basically nothing they can do.
Gertrude: Okay, very well done, that was very well explained. Well done in explaining that, Laura. What really struck you at the beginning? Was there anything that really had an impact on you when you started thinking about this family?
Speaker 1: Yes, because we know that there are people in the tent who are around the same age as us, so they are born in 2000. We have to consider that we are lucky because being the same age, we have more possibilities, we have a home here, we can eat when we want or drink, we have education and everything. While there are people of our age in other parts of the world who are suffering, and they have to share bathrooms. They don’t have a private room, or they have to sleep every night with other nine people.
Gertrude: What would you like to see happening, or do you have any ideas? What would you like, for example, other people to do or the Irish government?
Speaker 1: First of all, people don’t know about these problems because no one thinks about it if no one tells us. The fact that we are already working on it, it’s good. I think people should start thinking about other problems around the world. We’re just here living our lives without thinking about it.
Gertrude: Very good. Have you learned anything about asylum seekers or do you know anything about asylum seekers or refugees in Ireland? I see somebody here. Renea, tell me about what you know about asylum seekers and refugees and what are your feelings of policies and stuff in Ireland?
Speaker 1: Well, in the European Union, there is a common European asylum system which sets out the EU laws, it was completed in 2005. It does protect the rights of the asylum seekers and the refugees. However, not all EU states comply to these rules and they don’t operate fairly. The laws are meant to set out the minimum standards and the procedures for processing and deciding on the asylum applications.
Gertrude: Do you think that Ireland is doing its bit in terms of taking in refugees at the moment?
Speaker 1: I wouldn’t say so.
Gertrude: What would you like to say to our listeners?
Speaker 2: Really, we’d just like them to spread the word and let as many people know as possible about the injustice that’s going on in Iraq, to the Yazidi people, and support them in any way that they can really.
Gertrude: What’s your own name?
Speaker 2: David. One thing I think people would really like to see is change in the laws in Ireland, to allow these refugees to seek asylum in our country.
Gertrude: Britney, will you just show me the tent. Yes, Britney is going to show me the tent now. Okay, so tell me about this now. This is your art project. How did you put this together?
Speaker 1: Well, Ms. O’Shea kind of helped us with the idea but we came up with it ourselves, as well. As David said, we gave a print to our woodwork teacher and he put it together. We stitched all the materials. We got different types of materials, such as curtains, and we just stitched them together. We’ve been doing this for the last few weeks.
Gertrude: Is it finished now?
Speaker 1: Nearly. We just still have a few bits to sow.
Gertrude: Tell me these dimensions again. 3×3, is it?
Speaker 1: 3×2.4, I think.
Gertrude: Okay, and this is part of your art work for your work in your school.
Speaker 1: Yes.
Gertrude: What are you going to do with the tent now?
Speaker 2: It’s going to be presented in front of a lot of people in the Glucksman Gallery, UCC.
Gertrude: Are you looking forward to it?
Speaker 2: Yes.
Gertrude: Have you ever had an artwork in a gallery before?
Speaker 2: No.
Gertrude: This is a first. Are you good at art?
Speaker 2: Not really.
Gertrude: Who’s the best artist here? You’re all brilliant, are you? Lin. Are you looking forward to having a piece in the Glucksman?
Speaker 1: Yes, I really do.
Gertrude: You’re really looking forward to it?
Speaker 1: Yes.
Gertrude: Yes, it’ll be fun. You know that there are other schools going to have exhibitions there, as well, or art works. This is your first time having something in an art gallery?
Speaker 1: Yes.
Gertrude: Well, well done to all of you. Brilliant. What’s your name?
Speaker 1: Kayley.
Gertrude: Kayley, how did it make you feel, just thinking about all of this and different parts of lives?
Speaker 1: Upsetting.
Gertrude: Upsetting, very upsetting. What about you? What’s your name?
Speaker 7: Shantel.
Gertrude: Shantel, you’re part of this, as well. Did you enjoy putting it together?
Speaker 7: Yes, it was good to get some team work with the class and just to work together.
Gertrude: Yes, did you have fun doing it, as well? Yes, so learning doesn’t have to be… anything you’d like to say?
Speaker 7: I just wish other people who are living there right now in tents get better life and that more people are going to help them.
Gertrude: Okay. Do you think it’s getting enough attention?
Speaker 7: Not really.
Gertrude: Have you ever read anything about it in the newspapers?
Speaker 7: Before we started this project, I didn’t really hear about it, but then after our teacher told us about it, I keep looking more for it in the newspaper and everything.
Gertrude: Well done. What’s your name?
Speaker 7: Henrik.
Speaker 1: When we go put the tent, that we’re going to put people inside, so they can experience what it’s like to be living in a tent, lying down, so they know how it feels to be stuck with a load of people and not being able to turn and stuff.
Gertrude: I think we will take one word or two words, one or two words from each person, just anything that strikes you, that you want to say, or how you feel, or just something that you think encapsulates what you’d like to say?
Speaker 3: Shocking and appalling really.
Speaker 1: Helpful and compassionate.
Speaker 6: Disgust and anger.
Speaker 5: Anger.
Speaker 2: Overwhelming and disappointed.
Speaker 4: Hurtful.
Speaker 7: Anxiety and fear.
Speaker 8: Interesting in another way.
Gertrude: Contemplative and lucky.
Host: Change. Thoughtful.
Speaker 1: Bothering and awareness.
1Speaker 2: Action and social justice.
Speaker 3: Motivated, like to do something.
Gertrude: Well done everybody. You did very well, didn’t they? That was absolutely fantastic. Thank you very much. Well done. Are you proud of yourselves?
[Audio playback within interview ends: 00:21:16] End of Audio