The ReGap project held a symposium as part of the big international conference ICDE Lillehammer Lifelong Learning Summit 2019 in Lillehammer 13. February 2019. 60-70 persons from more than 20 countries participated in the symposium, and refugees and migrants that have been involved in the ReGap projects (video productions, focus groups and trials) were invited as special guests. The symposium was titled Let’s talk and share! Refugees and migrants building social inclusion through digital storytelling.
Why such a symposium?
On the road to integration and employment for refugees and migrants, an important step is social inclusion. This means to improve the terms of participation in the society by enhancing opportunities, access to resources, voice and respect for rights (United Nations, 2016).
In the Erasmus+ “ReGap” project, personal stories are actively being used in a portfolio of courses which aim is to secure employment and full participation in the society. In the session, digital storytelling was explored as a means to create a sense of social belonging in online educational courses. By digital stories, we mean personal and visualised narratives and testimonials, where the storyteller’s own voice is a driving force.
The ReGap presenters were (from left to right): Ass. Professor João Caramelo, Porto University, Postdoctoral Researcher Marta Pinto, Porto University, Professor Yngve Nordkvelle, INN University, Higher Executive Officer Linda Tangen Bjørge, INN University,
Assoc. Professor Brit Svoen, INN University, and Professor Stephen Dobson, Victoria University of Wellington/INN University .
Part 1 – Introduction
– What is digital storytelling and how can it used in social inclusion?
– In search of personal stories through focus groups
– The Health Course Case: The stories of Inga, Rkan and Selamowit
Part 2 – How to create social belonging?
– Group work
– Interactive feedback
– Sharing and summing up
As part of the group work, the participants discussed 1) what well-being means for them, 2) What are your best ideas to become part of society in a foreign country and 3) If you could tell a story, what would it be about?. Many interesting answers were presented through an interactive tool (menti.com).
Well-being is family, safety, belong to a pleace, social security and health for me and my family, good health and good releations, taking care of your body, to be happy, the ability to solve problem, to learn more of the host language, freedom to pursue interest and so on. One particant wrote:
“Well being for me is to live in a peaceful environment with my family, being healthy, understanding each other. It’s not about money, it’s about love and being happy for what you have.”
We also received a lot of wise advices for becoming part of society in a foreign country. Learning the language is #1, but also being a person open to the other, improve education, finding a hobby, socialise with others and even start with yoga!
Among the ideas for stories: “How I met my husband! He is from Norway and I am from Ethopia – we met in South Sudan :)”, “How to succeed in integration – what did I do to achieve that?”, “Coming here is a completely different life in Norway and a new culture”, “My past, what I have experienced”, “About my parents” and many more.