The experiences of those seeking refuge in Ireland are being showcased at Mary Immaculate College until 7 April as the We Are Here, HEAR exhibition visits the Limerick campus. The open-air photovoice exhibition aims to raise awareness of the presence of refugees in Ireland and to bring their voices into public spaces in order to call attention to the challenges they face.
Curated by College Connect – an initiative combining academics drawn from four Higher Education Institutions around Ireland – the exhibition is the culmination of peer-to-peer research with over a hundred refugees on their own stories and experiences. We Are Here, HEAR was born of a recommendation from participants that more could be done at institutional and cultural levels to highlight some of the barriers faced by refugees and those in the asylum process who aspire to further their education.
The exhibition features eleven large outdoor boards which display twenty-two photos taken by refugees on their experiences, accompanied by a written blurb. It is on display at MIC following an invite from the Director of Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Interculturalism (EDII) and is hosted in partnership with Doras, a non-profit organisation working to promote the rights of migrants in Ireland.
Speaking at the launch of We Are Here, HEAR was College Connect Project Lead Dr Sarah Sartori: “This exhibition is really living research. It’s about taking research outside the walls of our academies and into the public space for debate and discussion. That conversation about refugees is particularly poignant now but it is a conversation that needs to be kept alive because the barriers aren’t going away. The hope behind the exhibition is that people will engage with it, see their stories and put themselves in someone else’s shoes while they walk through the exhibition. We hope it will help those understand the experiences of those who are living this journey as they try to navigate the policies and procedures that we have in Ireland for refugees and the barriers that are in place."
According to MIC’s Director of EDII, Professor Lorraine McIlrath: “We are delighted to host this compelling and moving exhibition that highlights the many challenges facing refugees and asylum seekers within higher education in Ireland. This represents a great moment in time to address these challenges as we seek to include existing people in our society who live in Direct Provision and those fleeing and seeking refuge form Ukraine. Through our MIC College of Sanctuary programme of work, we have come together as a staff and student community to develop activities to support those from the Ukraine to feel included in our communities. One of these activities is our ‘MIC Teaching for Inclusion Seminar Series’ to support our teaching community develop supports for inclusion within the multicultural classroom”.
Each of the photo boards includes a QR code which brings users to the We Are Here, HEAR website, which includes further videos and learning resources, as well as the ability to log a reaction to the exhibition. You can find out more about that and the We Are Here, HEAR exhibition by clicking here.