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Refugee Student Story Telling Workshop

This was one of ten social inclusion projects I carried out for my PhD.  The title of my research is:

“FROM LOCAL TO GLOBAL – A JOURNEY WITH DEVELOPMENT EDUCATION (DE), COMMUNITY AND MULTIMEDIA”:  What can educators learn about engaging adult learners in Development Education?  A critical investigation into the power of Community-Linked Learning and Multimedia Methodologies in Higher Education

Case Study:  Professional Masters in Education (PME) Student and Cork based Asylum-Seeker – classroom based course and digital story telling project.

My supervisor, Dr. Steve O’Brien and I had begun a project called the ‘Id Est’ Project (‘Integrating Development Education into Student Teacher Training) at the School of Education, aiming to introduce student teachers to DE.  As part of this, the PME students were invited to attend six workshops for a ‘Global Teacher Award’ (GTA), facilitated by an outside facilitator.  The GTA covers topics such as ‘development’ and development education, social justice, trade rights, diversity, human rights, interdependence and sustainable development.  Six students volunteered to participate.  I attended, recorded and took field notes of all sessions.  From this group I asked one student, Claire (not her real name), to become one of my case study students.

Shortly after this I also ran a six week course on Development Education myself, set up for my research purposes.  I invited students from across campus to attend and it became a base for four of the case study students in my PhD, including Claire. I invited Claire because of her passion, sensitivity and desire to learn more.  A group of seven students, five female and two male, participated in the interdisciplinary group (all from the humanities), whom I recruited through the UCC email system, posters and word of mouth.  They were from different nationalities (Irish, American, Malaysian and Nigerian) and disciplines and ranged in age from nineteen to seventy. All except one were students at different levels in UCC, from first year to PhD level.  He was a post-secondary school student elsewhere and living in a direct provision centre. All participated actively, carried out community-linked projects and discussed this in the classroom.

The PME students wanted to work on a collaborative project with asylum seekers and refugees in Cork and decided to fund a collaborative digital storytelling (DST) workshop and invite asylum seekers and refugees.  Because of my experience with a pilot project I sought people, from those communities but who were experienced community advocates and/or third level students.  Countries of origin included Lebanon, Palestine, Nigeria, South African and Ireland.  I interviewed each student to discuss expectations and explain the purpose of the research.  Each signed a consent form.  The professional facilitator, whose PhD supported asylum-seekers to tell their stories, sent reading material in advance.  Participants had been asked to bring a story about ‘Social Justice’. The workshop consisted of an introductory session, a deeper storytelling circle and the production of the digital stories.  As a participant and researcher I observed and wrote field notes and had in-depth interviews with participants and the facilitator after the workshop.  I also used narrative analysis of the stories including my own, to collect data.

The research findings are not yet published but a sample of the stories from the Digital Story Telling Workshop can be found below:

Chinyere Victor :  The Interview

Ola Yusuf Tijani


Gertrude Cotter: The Doll

Nomaxabiso Princess Maye

Ciara Grant

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