Phoenix, AZ, USA
Growing-up on the outskirts of Paris, I lived and went to school with migrant families from across Africa and the Middle-East, giving me the best opportunities to understand the challenges that migration and resettlement represent. Later, as I moved to the United States from my native Paris at the age of 19, and then to the U.K. at the age of 24, I personally got to experience what it can mean to be an immigrant - to feel a stranger away from home, and to have to rebuild everything from finding a place to live to understanding new cultural nuances. Beyond my personal understanding of migration, I more particularly became interested in refugees as I studied diasporas and transnationalism during my Master’s at the University of Oxford. My interest sparked as I realized how little I knew about these people who seemed to live all around me. I was amazed at their incredible and poignant stories, and yet, at how often they seemed viewed as intimidating invaders. I turned this interest into my Master’s thesis which dealt with the Bhutanese refugees’ resilience in their resettlement process in the U.S. and the U.K., and questioned what it means to be “resettled” and to be “at home.”
Since my degree, I have worked with refugees and asylees in the Campsfield detention center near Oxford, bringing storytelling to them “inside,” to offer a distraction from their difficult situation of limbo, and with the hope to bring their story “outside” and foster awareness. In the last year, I have also been teaching English and computer literacy to refugee women at the NGO Refugee Focus, in Phoenix, Arizona. Starting July, 2016 I will move on to assist with teaching in their Women’s Leadership Program. And more recently, I have also been raising funds to create a Driving Education project for the refugee women at Refugee Focus and in the local area of Phoenix.
Overall, I am quite fascinated by the idea of collecting stories and trying to bring about awareness, and hopefully, a greater understanding and tolerance for what it means to be a refugee and for their personal journeys. I am interested in more concretely creating solutions to “educate” both refugees about their new country of resettlement, and native individuals about refugeehood. I believe that through an exchange of formal and informal education for and about refugees, a bridge of acceptance can be created to bring about greater social inclusion.