On April 16th, students of the groundbreaking Sanctuary in Politics course celebrated their graduation with heartfelt speeches, cultural performances and delicious food. Representatives of supporting organisations stopped by, as did seasoned politician Eamon Ryan.
It was the last of a total of six sessions in which twenty participants gained knowledge from practitioners in their fields about Irish politics, public speaking and the media. The aim was to enhance the capacity of the diverse group of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants to add their voices to public discourse and political activities in Ireland.
Those who took part in the course universally expressed their gratitude, not just for the knowledge gained, but for the opportunity to meet peers from various backgrounds with whom to share experiences. Trinity College postgraduate student Xinyue Qin remarked, “I feel grateful to have all of you as my friends. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful experience studying in City of Sanctuary Dublin.”
Throughout the course, those involved had different opportunities to network, engage in public speaking and communicate with the media. Participants also took their own initiative to advance the cause of promoting a culture of welcome in Dublin. One student has started talks with his school to make it a university of sanctuary. Another person has taken up the fight for third level education for asylum seekers. One graduate is even running for the Senate!
The Sanctuary in Politics course may be over, but this proactive group has only just begun their exciting work together. Plans for the near future include further classes on the Irish political system as well as more extensive media training. This team truly has the potential to change the face of Irish politics. Stay tuned.