Refugees meet online

June 8, 2001

Refugees and asylum seekers in England, Finland and Sweden are being brought together by a multilingual website developed at Nottingham Trent University.

Sue Thomas, artistic director of trAce Online Writing Centre, based at the university, and UK coordinator for the Migrating Memories (Mime) project, said that the scheme aimed in part to build online communities where displaced citizens in different countries with similar experiences could share memories.

"A lot of the project is with local museums. The refugees' experiences form part of the experiences of the wider community and so are very valuable. We are building a community of memory. We can all find things within the refugees' experiences that we can relate to," she said.

The centre is a partner in Mime, led by Malmö Museer in Malmo, Sweden. The project is part-funded by the European Union's Culture 2000 Programme and will cost €245,600 (about £147,680). The Museum Centre Vapriikki in Tampere, Finland, and the Nottingham Castle Museum are also partners.

Contributors to the website include: Mohammed, a lorry driver from Iran who arrived in England with only the clothes he was wearing; Gultane, an accountant from Turkey who brought only a photo of her father and a wedding ring; and Ertan, a poet who arrived with just four pencils and a notebook.

The participants relate their stories with the help of teachers and museum staff in their newly adopted countries. Readers can leave feedback on the site.

Mime is also running workshops with young immigrants about the importance of safe-keeping memories, a dramatised travelling exhibition and a two-day seminar on the methods and importance of incorporating migration memory and cultural heritage and identity in museums.

Staff at Malmo Museer, the Museum Centre Vapriikki and the Nottingham Castle Museum are working with teachers and young immigrants on the theme of objects, memories and stories. Students document their memories and most precious objects.

The exhibition is at the Museum Centre Vapriikki until July 1 and will be at Nottingham Castle Museum from July 14 to August 29. It then moves to Malmo Museer from September 12 to November 25.

The Mime project needs volunteer translators. Email: sue.thomas@ntu.ac.uk
Mime: www.migratingmemories.net

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