“Building a Connection” by Aisling Miller

“Building a Connection” by Aisling Miller

“Building a Connection” by Aisling Miller

Did you know, there are 60 million displaced humans currently on the planet? This was one of many facts presented at the ALIVE workshop on Migration, Refugees and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) here on campus, in conjunction with the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) and Fáilte Refugees Galway Campaign. The main aim of the event was to build a connection between people and migration so as to highlight the normality and reality of people on the move. Once we construct borders which regulate who can and cannot move, we are not considering why it is necessary for people to move, or how that must feel. The activities during the workshop helped us to understand what it was like to be a migrant youth, which gave us a clearer perception of the challenges they experience.

NYCI is the umbrella organisation for youth work here in Ireland. They work with connecting young people with global issues, both at home and abroad, while empowering them with the necessary skills and confidence to actively participate in society. Also in attendance was Aidan Harte, Auditor of the Fáilte Refugees Society here in NUI Galway. Upon speaking with him, it was evident Aidan had high hopes for the future and potential of the society. They intend to reach out to secondary schools around Galway and educate young people about the current refugee crisis. This NYCI workshop offered many tools and resources which may be applied by Fáilte Refugees in the future.

Throughout the workshop, it was encouraging to see such engagement and interest from participants. Megan, a final year Arts, student described her interest in the workshop and how she believes “it’s such a big topic at the moment [..] Historically migration has been a big issue and it will continue into the future. Conflict and climate change will see millions more displaced”.

One of the main points I took from the workshop was about perception. Dermot, from NYCI, offered a poignant quote stating that “You can only see the world from where you are standing”. Only through dialogue and connection can we begin to gain a clearer understanding of the world around us, and her issues. If society could come together and talk about the problems happening both around the world and at home in Ireland, we could make some progress and form connections between people, topics and places.

The work which both NYCI and Fáilte Refugees do is fundamentally trying to support this idea of starting dialogue and making connections. These organisations support and believe in the youth of Ireland. It is an exceptional opportunity for them to be exposed to these global issues and included in the dialogue.

The workshop was received well by all participants, one student even commented that “it was really motivating and great to see what's being done on the education of students about what it means to be a refuge.” Hopefully more opportunities like this become available again around Galway and I urge you to go along and get involved in the dialogue.

5 things I learned:

40’000 people die from crossing borders since 2000
Collaboration and communication is necessary if we are to work together to overcome global issues, such as migration
Every individual is responsible for the SDG
It’s about knowing what you can do at home; there are opportunities to make an impact
Ireland is hosting Welcome Migrant Meals

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dermot from NYCI for taking the time to travel from Dublin to facilitate this workshop and to ALIVE for organising such an informative and beneficial evening. To get involved and make your mark you can visit the NYCI website www.youth.ie or join NUIG’s Fáilte Refugees society

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