Through other people’s eyes

Image from The Arrival by Shaun Tan, picture courtesy his publishers, Hachette Licensing.com Australia

Three Eindhoven organisations are starting a new project with and about refugees. These organisations are Vluchtelingen in de Knel, Amnesty International, and Vredesburo Eindhoven. The name of this project is Through Other People’s Eyes.

The project is intended for students aged 10 to 18. Refugees run the classes themselves. They will tell the students about the sometimes extremely difficult paths they have followed. The students are encouraged to engage in conversations and so gain a better understanding of the individual situations and the personal struggles underlying the refugee’s situation.

The arrival difficult decisions
Difficult decisions The Arrival, Shaun Tan, courtesy Hachette licencing.com Australia

Joined forces

The project is new in that three organisations are sharing their joint expertise to ensure that students get a well-founded idea of the complex refugee situation. It starts with the refugees and their individual stories. Vluchtelingen in de Knel (Refugees in a fix) will add information about the procedural side: government rules and regulations. In addition, Amnesty International can answer questions about international law concerning refugees. Finally, the Vredesburo (Peace Bureau) has insight into refugee movements and war situations.

Not just talk

Drama and audiovisual material are also part of the package. The organisations’ ultimate aim is to enable the student to develop a well-founded opinion based on reliable  information. It is this mix of angles combined with the participation of the refugee that lends the project its unique character.

Preparing the ground

A special component of the project is the preparation: an experienced teacher will train the refugees in the telling of their stories. This is necessary to ensure that the stories do not fall on deaf ears and the speaker feels confident. School classes are not always safe spaces if preconceived notions influence the students’ reception of the guest speaker. The refugee question is an extremely sensitive and polarising subject in Dutch society. The three organisations hope that their combined efforts will give the debate a positive twist.

The project will start in Eindhoven schools in January 2023. More information can be obtained through info@vredesburo.nl

Greta Timmers for Eindhoven News

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