Recently, Nas and Kate visited Stonyhurst College for a workshop in order to explain the situation that asylum seekers are facing in the UK. It was by an invitation from the college for a special day for the pupils to look at their values and learn about different communities or issues outside of their own experience.
Nas said “We tried to explain to the pupils the difference between a refugee, an asylum seeker, a migrant and an internally displaced person. We also showed them a video about people who experience destitution in the UK. We did a quiz to challenge their assumptions about why refugees come here. I took the opportunity to talk about my experience of destitution.”
Kate said “We shared the approach of JRS to be welcoming and to respect people as individuals, not to stigmatise them or think that refugees just come to Europe for better opportunities. We tried to explain that people come for safety and they are courageous.” She also shared “I think to start with they had some understanding but did not really appreciate the difficulties; but when they saw the stories of our JRS refugee friends and heard Nas’ story, they had a new respect for asylum seekers.”
Nas agreed. “They were emotionally responsive and also they made comments and suggestions about what should be done to help asylum seekers in the UK. We talked about JRS values such as compassion, justice and solidarity which help to change our attitudes.”
Regarding the meaning of workshops like this, Nas thinks “It is important to do such workshops in order to send out awareness about what asylum seekers are facing in this country and to help to change the way people think about them. For example, one pupil said it was important not to judge until you know about their real situation.”
Kate remembers “When I was at school we did a similar workshop and it made a big impression on me. I don’t think I would have chosen to work for JRS as an adult, without these opportunities in my own life. So it helps inspire people to live and work to serve others.”
Both of them had a very good day. For Nas, “It was hard speaking in front of everybody!” but he also said “I enjoyed the environment of the school and the pupils were well behaved. They were willing to listen and to learn.” Kate said “I liked it when the pupils in the last workshop gave Nas a round of applause after he spoke!” She added “I was nervous beforehand, but it went well.”