Following UCC’s designation as a University of Sanctuary by the organization ‘Places of Sanctuary Ireland’, the week of February 5th saw the launch of UCC’s inaugural Refugee Week. The five day event took place throughout campus, and was organized by UCC’s University of Sanctuary working group, in collaboration with the UCC STAR Society, The Social Inclusion Unit, Cork City Council and Music Generation Cork City. The event was coordinated in order to bring the issues facing asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in Ireland and globally into the public eye.
Numerous events took place across campus during the week, including talks, presentations, documentary and movie screenings (one of which was shot by young asylum seekers) and the launch of the ‘Blueprints’ exhibition. ‘Blueprints’ is a series of art pieces created and curated by young asylum seekers, refugees and scouts. The exhibition took place in the Glucksman Gallery and was opened to the public by UCC President Professor Patrick O’Shea.
Some of the most important events of the week, however, were more private affairs. On the Monday, Music Generation Cork and GMCBeats held a workshop for young asylum seekers, in which they introduced and taught children how to rap and about the origins of hip-hop, and what went into writing and recording hit songs. On the Tuesday, UCC’s Visitors’ Centre held a private tour of UCC exclusively for young refugees and asylum seekers.
Other more public highlights included a talk with the director of Médecins Sans Frontières, Sam Taylor, which was held in the Glucksman on the Thursday, and the “Becoming a City of Sanctuary” talk, which took place in Cork City Library, in which patrons were informed about Cork City’s journey to becoming a City of Sanctuary, heard true stories from refugees and migrants, and learned about initiatives in Cork city aiming at supporting integration within the city.