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    Family Learning and Refugee Resource collaborate for museum exhibition

    Since June this year, the Museum of Oxford have presented “Journeys to Oxford”, an art exhibition that has involved collaboration with Oxfordshire Adult Learning’s Family Learning team.

    The team, who work closely with local communities on a daily basis, delivered an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course with the women’s group at Refugee Resource, an Oxfordshire-based service that offers support to refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants.

    Working with two artists from the Museum, the Family Learning team ran a 6-week course to tap into the key themes of the exhibition – Community, Culture, Diversity, Travel, and Integration – whilst students also developed their English speaking, listening and writing skills in the process.

    During the project, the group talked about elements of their lives in their home countries and Oxford, bringing in objects that represented their culture and explaining the significance of these objects. They shared elements of their journeys in the work they produced. This included textile maps, digital hand stories, and fabric collages. The work represents journeys from countries including Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Mauritius, and Afghanistan.

    Together, they aim to shine a light on the journeys made by residents of and visitors to the city, such as those made by refugees.

    They produced journey maps – including Somalia, Sudan, Palestine, Trinidad and Syria – that represented their past experiences, their present lives in Oxford and their hopes for the future.

    The collection of works produced by those on the course are a mix of photographs, objects such as suitcases, textiles, creative writing, digital art, oral history, and collage.

    The exhibition celebrates the diverse “contributions made to the cultural life of Oxford by those who have travelled to the city to live, work, visit and study”, people who have travelled from all over the world.

    The 6-week course proved very successful, with two follow-on courses set up as a result at the Barton Neighbourhood Centre and the Blackbird Leys Learning Centre. These groups produced journey maps and suitcases –celebrating journeys from Somalia, Sudan, Palestine, Turkey, India, Albania, Pakistan, Egypt, Trinidad and Syria. The artwork produced represented their past experiences, their present lives in Oxford and their hopes for the future.

    Joe Carter, Head of Family Learning at OAL, said: “Working with Refugee Resource and seeing the learners’ experiences shaped into physical form was a privilege, and the quality of what the learners produced is as outstanding as it is moving.

    By providing ESOL courses and working on projects like “Journeys to Oxford”, the team aims to bring communities closer together and provide learning opportunities to everyone, especially to those who feel like they can’t.

    We hope there will opportunities in the future to collaborate with Refugee Resource and the Museum again.”

    “Journeys to Oxford” will be running until 4 November 2017, every day (except Sundays) from 10am – 5pm, with free entry at the Museum of Oxford in the Gallery.

    Find out more about our Family Learning programme: www.abingdon-witney.ac.uk/oal/family-2

    More information about Refugee Resource can be found at refugeeresource.org.uk

    (July 2017)

    Learner works on display at the Museum gallery resize

    (Banner image: Barton Family Learning ESOL Group. Above: Student exhibitions displayed in the Museum of Oxford.)

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