Emily Churchill Zaraa from Migrants Resource Centre reports from a migrant storytelling conference chaired by PhotoVoice
[gdlr_quote align=”center” ]Wherever you are in the world, you can sit behind a window and shout against migrants. But after the last swearword, try to put yourself in their situation. Just put yourself outside of your window.[/gdlr_quote]
These are the opening words of Lighting Your Way, a photofilm by Sudanese journalist and refugee Anwar Elsamani, which asks you to put yourself in the shoes of those who are forced to cross borders:
It could just as easily be a manifesto for My Journey, a multimedia storytelling project I have been coordinating at Migrants Resource Centre, which aims to tackle the demonisation of migrants by opening windows to their real-life, human, unstereotype-able experiences.
Between February and August 2014, 38 Londoners from all over the world – Anwar was one of them – took part in free training courses in multimedia storytelling, producing photo and audio stories, films and comic strips about their lives.
The stories that emerged were diverse, moving and surprising – you can see and hear them at www.my-journey.org.uk.
Self-expression through creativity is also at the heart of BEAMS, a pan-European project Migrants Resource Centre is partner to, aimed at changing the public discourse on minorities.
Here in the UK, a diverse group of students from Globe Academy worked with music social enterprise Soundcastle to exploring their identities on their own terms, through music:
As these two projects draw to a close, we wanted to give more people the tools to tell their stories, as well as to inspire/ inform others who would like to run participatory arts projects in their own communities.
On Friday 28th November we held ‘Our Journey: exploring migrant stories through multimedia and the arts’, a conference with a definite difference chaired by PhotoVoice Projects Manager Matt Daw.
Delegates from as far afield as Birmingham and Leicester gathered at Paddington Arts for a day of talks and hands-on workshops by a fantastic line-up of media and arts professionals:
I also did a talk highlighting the free media production software and sites we have found useful for My Journey (links are listed on the Facebook group below, or you can email me for a copy).
After an action-packed day there was a buzz in the air and a real sense that people wanted to put what they had learnt into practice in their own projects. One said:
“Great everything. Thought provoking, stomach pleasing, great people, good connections/sharing!” – in case you were wondering, stomach pleasing was a reference to the delicious food by migrant women’s catering enterprise the Chickpea Sisters.
I felt inspired to start a Participatory Arts and Media Facebook group for everyone interested in community arts for social change – a space for us to share ideas, ask for advice and publicise our projects: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1540369632874067/
Hope to see you there!
Thank you to our funders:
The Big Lottery Fund (Our Journey conference and exhibition)
The Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme of the European Union (BEAMS)
City Bridge Trust (My Journey)
Contact Emily Churchill Zaraa, Empowerment & Communications Officer at Migrants Resource Centre: EmilyCZ@migrants.org.uk
All photos © Anwar ElSamani