Volunteers run successful Human Library Festival

By project volunteer Anna Ratkai

On 25 November over 250 people attended the Human Library Festival at the Temple of Peace, Cardiff organised by young volunteers from the Welsh Centre for International Affairs and refugee volunteers from Oasis Cardiff.

Eritrean coffee

Volunteer Osman’s Eritrean coffee draws a crowd

Attendees had the chance to explore all the interesting activities provided by organisations such as Stand up to Racism and The Welsh Refugee Council; listen to all the great musicians performing throughout the event; and try traditional dishes and sweets from around the world. So what is a Human Library Festival?

A Human Library is just like an ordinary library, however, in this case the books are replaced with people, who are happy to share their life stories with anyone interested. Our Human Library Festival featured books who had stories to tell about immigration and asylum-seeking in Wales, human rights issues and integration. For instance Amanda Morris talked about being a feminist who wears an Islamic headscarf; Paul Battenbbough chatted about what it is like to teach music in Oasis Refugee Center and Gareth Bonello explained how he has been campaigning for Human Rights through music.

The vibrant Library featured 12 Human Books who couldn’t have been any busier talking to the curious and engaged audiences

Engaging stories from human books

who left very positive feedback. A politics student from Cardiff University said he has learnt a lot about Human Rights and immigration related issues though these conversations, another attendee wrote this on the Library’s white board: “It was great to hear some inspirational stories. I must do more to support migrants and learn from them!”. It wasn’t only the audience that benefited from the event. The event was organised by young volunteers and asylum-seekers themselves, who enjoyed working together, building skills and becoming friends in the process.

The Human Library Festival also set up a Market Place in the stunning Marble Hall of the Temple of Peace. This Market Place hosted organizations who came along to represent their work as well as to engage the attendees in activities

Fantastic music at the event

related to integration and Human Rights. For instance, one such organization, People & Planet called the attention to the unjust distribution of economic benefits and their environmental costs in the world.

 

Food played a central role during the event – people had the chance to try different nations’ traditional dishes and sweets, while the Eritrean stall also gave the chance to explore coffee-making traditions and have a nice hot and refreshing traditionally prepared Eritrean cup of coffee! Sudanese curry, Turkish sweets, Omani dessert, Lebanese finger food and much more was served some of which was kindly donated by local City Road restaurants Deli Fuego, Al Wali, Saray and Mezze Luna.

BBC Radio Wales interviewed two volunteers of the project, listen to the interview here:

Celebrating Sudan at with Sudanese volunteers from Oasis

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09g655c (time code: 2:13:13 – 2:18:15).

Also, Journalism student Sagnik came along to the event and and was inspired to make this video.

Check out our Flickr account as well to see pictures of the event.

Many of the Human Books said they’d be more than happy to share their stories in the future, and many attendees inquired about the next Human Library event.

Thank you to People’s Postcode Trust, entirely funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery for funding the event.

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Eisteddfod | Ynys Mon | 2017

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Gan Mared Jones

Mi roeddwn yn gwirfoddoli yn yr Eisteddfod ym Môn 2017 am dri diwrnod o fewn y Babell Heddwch. Yn fy amser yno, roeddwn yn ffocysu yn bennaf ar hanes cudd/hanes pobl arferol, a chysylltu hynny gyda’r rhyfel byd cyntaf oherwydd bod yr Eisteddfod yma yn dathlu 100 mlynedd ers cadeirio Hedd Wyn. Er hynny, gwnaethom ni gymryd ongl wahanol ohono, sef ffocysu ar hanes merched yn ystod y rhyfel, a gofyn y cwestiwn os oedd y rhyfel wedi cyfrannu at gydraddoldeb rhwng marched a dynion. I wneud hyn, gefais y dasg i grwydro o gwmpas y maes i chwilota am bobl a bysa yn fodlon rhoi ei barn bersonol nhw am y mater. Gwnes I ymweld rhai o’r pabelli a bysa efalle yn cynnwys pobl gyda barn ddiddorol am y mater, e.e.. pabell ffeministiaeth, LGBT, pabelli brifysgolion a.y.b.. Cefais ymateb llwyddiannus iawn, a gwnes i lwyddo i gael cyfweliad gyda thua saith person, pob un ohonyn nhw gydag atebion a barn ddiddorol i’w rhoi ymlaen.

Pic to go with Mared blog .jpg

 

Gwnes i ddysgu llawer am yr hanes wrth wneud y dasg yma, ond yn bennaf gwnes i ddysgu llawer o sgiliau cymdeithasol, ac roedd hynny yn rhywbeth roeddwn angen yn rheolaidd yn ystod fy amser yn yr Eisteddfod.Roedd llawer o adegau ble roedd oedolion neu blant yn dod i mewn i’r babell, ac yn gofyn cwestiynau am y sefydliad, yn ogystal â chwestiynau’r am yr hanes roeddwn yn ffocysu arno, yn ogystal a holi am y wahanol gyfleoedd oedd ar gael gyda Chymry Dros Heddwch, e.e.. trawsgrifio enwau o’r cofnodion o’r milwyr o’r gorffennol. Gwnes I hefyd wneud ambell i dasg fwy syml, e.e.. helpu gyda gweithgareddau plant, helpu gwneud y stondin edrych yn daclus ac apelgar, gwasgaru pamffledi a.y.b.. Gwnes I ffeindio amser i wneud ychydig o drawsgrifio fy hun hefyd. Roedd hyn yn dasg ddiddorol, a hefyd yn helpu fi i ddod i arfer gyda’r wefan, felly os bysa unrhyw un o’r ymwelwyr yn cymryd diddordeb ynddo, baswn i yn medru dangos iddynt sut i wneud y trawsgrifio, a bysa hynny wedyn yn hwb iddyn nhw barhau gyda’r dasg yn amser ei hunain.

At the National Eisteddfod, Mared discovered some interesting peace stories involving the role of women in the war. As a Wales for Peace volunteer, Mared also introduced people to the project and the website as well as helping to run the stall in the Peace tent.   

 

 

 

 

Volunteer Voices: Anna Ratkai

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I am a student at Cardiff University and I was on a summer placement with the WCIA for 5 weeks. Throughout my placement I picked up multiple valuable skills, met numerous interesting people, and got involved in the organizing of a very fascinating project.

The atmosphere of the office was warm and welcoming, and the team was genuinely very keen on getting to know about me and about my interests. They also gave me ideas about where to volunteer and intern next to reach my future career goals. I found that I could easily make friends here, as all the other volunteers shared my interests and ambitions to help the ones in need, and learn more about international affairs. So altogether, the mood couldn’t have been any better.  But what did I actually do?

First, I started to work on a ‘Hidden History’ project. A Hidden History can be any topic that is not a mainstream object of history and is related to Wales and International Affairs. A Hidden History project can develop your research skills whilst it can also give you interviewing, writing, recording, or even video editing experience.

Later on I also had the chance to contribute to the blog of the WCIA by writing a post on a topic that is close to my heart – biodiversity loss. While writing this blog I learnt a lot about how Wales is contributing to biodiversity protection, and I discovered many volunteering opportunities for myself for the future if I were to engage in nature conservation activities.

The most interesting part however of my placement was being a part of the team that organizes the WCIA’s Human Library Festival. Organising such an important event gave me communication, time-management and coordination skills, while also giving me the opportunity to work alongside with refugees and get to know more about them as individuals and about their stories. I value this experience and I really hope the event will be a great success!

If you are interested in International Affairs, would like to gain valuable skills and get to know people who work in this field, the WCIA is the perfect place to volunteer and intern at!

You can find more information about volunteering with the WCIA here

Volunteer Voices

This month’s WCIA volunteers are Olivia Richards and Rhiannon Jones. Read their stories below. 

Olivia Richards

I am a Year 12 student, who is currently studying A-levels at an all Welsh school. After considering various courses, I have come to the conclusion that I would like to study Law at university therefore, work experience is necessary to help me develop numerous skills. One of my teachers recommended that I contact the WCIA for work experience. I am so glad I did as it has given me an insight of the life as a employee.

Outside of school, I enjoy performing. I attend a drama club every Tuesday where we prepare for showcases. Currently, I am preparing to play the role of Velma in Hairspray.

There are many things I have learnt during my time with the WCIA. One of which would be how to research certain topics and condense the information to make it suitable for blogs and social media posts, by following certain guidelines. I have also learnt how to use a certain online software which helped me create a timeline for the Urdd’s goodwill messages.

During my time of creating the timeline, I had to overcome a few struggles, such as learning how to use the software correctly. One of my favourite things to do was create a poster to represent the theme of ‘Hidden Histories’. I chose to base mine on refugees such as Michael Marks who was one of the two co-founders of Marks & Spencer. Another activity I had to do was analyse data from surveys that had been filled in, by using the software ‘Excel’. Fortunately, I study ICT as an A-level therefore this wasn’t much of a struggle.

The staff were very friendly and they all welcomed me with open arms.

Rhiannon Jones

Currently, I am in my first year of Sixth Form at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Llangynwyd. There, I am studying Welsh, Art and Psychology. I am hoping to study Welsh at university because I’m very interested in the language and our culture and am aiming to become a translator. I approached the WCIA for a week’s work experience as I am interested in issues such as women’s rights and peace and wanted to know how I could make a difference.

During the week, I contributed to the WCIA Voices blog as well as creating an interactive timeline of the Urdd Messages of Peace and Goodwill broadcasted over the years. This was very relevant to me as I have been a member of the Urdd since I was young and was fascinated to see how the members have been spreading these messages and how they’ve changed over the years.

I improved my analytical skills whilst handling questionnaire data. Personally, the hardest part of the week was raising awareness of global issues through creating social media posts. Creating informative and concise posts was challenging but I also learnt a lot about different issues whilst researching.

I was most surprised by the hidden history project and Olivia and I decided to make our own that looks on refugees. We focused on Joseph Mailin, who brought fish and chips to Britain and Michael Marks, one half of Marks & Spencer – people who I would not have thought to be refugees!

I’m very glad that I decided to come to WCIA for a week because I learnt a lot about the world and how everyone has something to contribute. The staff were friendly and I felt very welcomed.

If you are interested in volunteering with the WCIA- you can find out more here.   

Volunteering with the WCIA

By Mailys

Being a masters student in international relations and geopolitics and having spent one year studying in North Wales in 2016, the Welsh Centre for International Affairs (WCIA) was the perfect place to do my internship. For three months, I have been given many projects to work on such as:

  • Global Steps project — a project in collaboration with Erasmus + which aims at providing evidence of the skills and competencies developed through volunteering experience in order to facilitate access to quality employment using those skills.
  • Wales for Peace school workshops —I visited Welsh schools in order to run creative workshops and helping pupils to cover their Hidden History.

I also had the chance to attend several events such as Wales as a Nation of Sanctuary conference and Africa Day. Nation of Sanctuary conference was a coalition of charities, debating what and how to improve the lives of refugees and asylum seekers in Wales. The idea being pushed forward was to make Wales as a Nation of Sanctuary status, with an emphasis on creating a welcoming safe space for all. Such things as ‘welcoming’ or improving living conditions etc may seem small but a change in attitude and perceptions can create huge differences.

I am so glad for my experience at the WCIA. As a student, I have always been told how international institutions are important for national and international cooperation, to maintain peace. However, when at university, it seems like we are only taught about the United Nations, the OECD and other famous and massive institutions. But no-one seems to be emphasising smaller organisations that have an actual impact on these issues at a local level — like the WCIA. This is why my involvement in the WCIA has been a significant experience for me as it taught me a lot about how charities work and about the impact they can make on social, political and global issues and the extent that Wales is contributing to a greater global community and a fairer nation. To me, creating a change seems difficult by only working at an international level. However, by changing the focus to smaller everyday activities of interactions, at a local level first is what matters and what can work on the long run.

In the WCIA offices, the friendliness of everyone has been amazing. It was  also interesting to see how passionate people are on local and international subjects, on politics… Besides, I figured out there are always new ideas, skills, projects and events to be learnt, to work on and improve.

I am currently applying for my second year of masters emphasising on ‘peace studies’ and I think the internship will be an asset for my upcoming year and my future, especially when I consider the idea and objectives of the WCIA that everyone contributing to a fair and peaceful world.

After this three month internship, I have acquired several skills which improved my way of working, thinking and interacting with other. I also feel more confident about how to implement change, have an impact, talk about global issue and taking initiative than I was before the internship. The knowledge and skills I gained during my time volunteering are extremely useful and the range of opportunities I was offered in the WCIA was great.

If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering opportunities with the WCIA, click here.

 

Facebook, Brexit and the Global Community: a reflection on my time as a WCIA Volunteer

Sereen Kutubi looks back at her time as a volunteer for the Welsh Centre for International Affairs (WCIA).

I started volunteering with the WCIA during my last term at university. The knowledge and skills I gained during my time volunteering were extremely useful and the range of opportunities I was offered in the WCIA was great. I began volunteering on a weekly basis as a social media volunteer: I researched and produced content, scheduled it for publishing and attended events during my spare time. I thoroughly enjoyed creating social content for the WCIA as they share such a variety of information that promotes peace and global citizenship. Being able to work in the Temple of Peace also gave me an insight into the other organisations that share the building such as Hub Africa and Wales for Peace.

Attending the Brexit debates held at the Temple of Peace was extremely insightful:  listening to influential speakers such as Sally Holland (Children’s commissioner for Wales), Sir Emyr Jones Parry (former British diplomat and representative at the UN) and Adam Price (Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Business, Economy & Finance) gave me a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding Britain post-Brexit and hearing their opinions on matters that are important and are going to affect the population helped me to understand how we can spread awareness.

My involvement in the WCIA has been a significant experience for me:  it taught me a lot about how charities work, about the impact they can make on social and political issues and the extent that Wales is contributing to a greater global community.  Being involved with the WCIA motivated me to be a more active member in my community and to spread the message that individuals have the potential to make a positive impact. I look forward to continuing my involvement with the WCIA and learning more valuable skills and contributing to a positive, peaceful global community.

Seeing the Vision

By Matt Buxton

I volunteered with the WCIA for two weeks as part of my university course, under the idea of work based learning. What drew me to the WCIA was the idea of active global citizenship, which is part of the WCIA’s vision of “everyone contributing to a fair and peaceful world”. These are big words and I hoped by spending some time at the offices I could understand what this was and how to make it a part of my daily life. My responsibilities have been varied and have included working with communications, organising feedback forms and attending meetings. This variety has gifted me a wide range of skills and enabled me to understand how the charity works and how the work I was carrying out fits in. For example the use and worth of the feedback forms I put into spreadsheets contributes to improving future events and are used as evidence of outcomes for funders. What initially feels quite small adds up to something a lot larger. How every action taken has to be logically proved and justified, with nothing being taken for granted; as a result planning, monitoring and evaluation are important parts of day to day work. The majority of my days were concerned with creating paths of communication with the public, whether through Facebook posts or publicising events. The importance of reaching people was continually felt, how creating a fair and peaceful world was not tied down to physical events but required continual conversation and debate.

At the meetings I attended I was able to witness a different type of debate which is usually hidden. One stand out was a meeting with a coalition of charities, who were coordinating a future event regarding refugees and human rights. What struck me about this was the thought which went into this initial planning stage, how tone and representation to both the public and refugee communities was very important. The idea being pushed forward was a Nation of Sanctuary status for Wales, within this was an emphasis on creating a welcoming safe space for all. Such things may seem small but a change in attitude and perceptions can create huge differences. When I consider the idea of everyone contributing to a fair and peaceful world now, events like this come to mind, how participating, meeting new people and learning can be powerful methods in creating change. The paths individuals follow are shaped at multiple levels and interactions, when looking at such a system it is easy to become overwhelmed by focusing on world trends and international failings. Creating a meaningful change seems impossible but by changing the focus to smaller everyday activities of interactions; it can become manageable. Having worked in the WCIA offices the vision has been realised and understood through the work carried but more so by the people who work here. The friendliness of everyone has been amazing along with the passion for the work being undertaken. It was good to see how education and learning was an important pillar of the WCIA, not only within the projects but for the staff as well. How there are always new ideas, skills and techniques to be learnt which are shared amongst any who care to know. Over my time here I believe I have acquired several new skills which will improve my employment prospects but more importantly I have learnt skills to help improve my outlook and the lives of others around me.