Our Wellington centre’s ESOL Intensive class headed to Te Papa museum on a beautiful sunny day in early March.
People in this class come from all over the world: Afghanistan, China, Colombia, Japan, India, Indonesia, Iran, Korea, Philippines, Syria and Vietnam.
They spent time exploring the wonderful natural world and culture of New Zealand and experienced an ‘earthquake’. They also learned about Gallipoli from the exhibition Gallipoli: the Scale of our War.
But the refugee and migrant learners were especially excited to discover ‘The Mixing Room’ which is a multimedia display where you can hear the amazing stories of young refugees. These stories are told through art, film, poetry, performance, and digital media. You can see the immense changes the young participants have endured, and the hopeful new lives they’re building in New Zealand.
To create the exhibition, Te Papa facilitated a series of workshops around the country to enable young refugees to record the joys and difficulties of their experiences so far.
Our class found stories from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Vietnam, and they loved the accounts and beautiful pictures of the refugee families. A touchscreen table showed stories and pictures and the pull-out drawers were particularly poignant as these showed special items people had brought with them – from their old lives to their new.
“We found ourselves among them and we were all moved by the stories.” Ha Hoang, teacher
At the end of their trip, the class walked through a fascinating artwork called ‘The web of time’, an installation by Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota that creates the vision of a night sky studded with constellations of numbers.