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Plaza de España Seville Spain ;

Migration in Europe: building an inclusive and tolerant society

Helena Kudiobor

Undergraduate student, Department of Global Health & Social Medicine

18 January 2023

To allow people to gain a greater understanding of the refugee experience, Kairos Europe and Erasmus launched a series of educational programmes in countries across Europe. From 11–18 September 2022, I was fortunate enough to attend the programme in Seville, Spain.

Each day, myself and the other participants got the chance to hear from those working in Seville about their experiences working with refugees. We discussed important topics such as the conversion of work qualifications, the reception system for refugees in Spain, and the importance of adult education. We also got to listen to presentations about the importance of intercultural communication, empathy and bringing people together.

Via interactive exercises, we examined our own personalities and biases, and thought about how we can foster a more inclusive society. There was even a day trip organised to a local organic farm. While we were there, we heard about the environmental benefits of organic farming, and how the farm seeks to employ refugees and others who experience discrimination from society.

In addition to hearing from Sevillians, we also got the chance to hear from our fellow participants. One of my favourite things about the programme is that it brought together a range of people from different backgrounds, and the course provided a space for us to get to know each other and hear about other people’s experiences.

A number of participants chose to give presentations about their own connections to refugees. People discussed the volunteering work they’d done, their experience emigrating abroad, and even what it was like conducting news reporting in the field.

Third year undergraduate student at GHSM, Helena Kudiobor giving a presentation with the words 'Mental Health of Refugees' visible on a projected slide

Mental health is a topic I’m particularly passionate about, so I chose to do my own presentation about the mental health of refugees. I talked about how the challenges refugees face can worsen their mental health, and how things like addressing social determinants and integrating mental health support with immigration services can help improve refugee mental health as a whole.

I also got the chance to discuss the mental health work I’ve done as a Positive Peers co-supervisor and shared how even non-professionals can support refugees by volunteering, donating and challenging stereotypes.

With class from 09.00–14.00, we had the afternoons and evenings to explore Seville. On our first day we were taken on a walking tour across the city, where we learnt about the culture and history of Seville, as well as seeing some key landmarks. Some highlights include attending a captivating flamenco performance, visiting Plaza De Espana (Spain Square), visiting the breathtaking Royal Alcázar (an ancient royal palace), and enjoying lots of tapas!

To make the trip accessible to everyone, flights, accommodation and spending money were all covered, meaning no one was held back from the trip due to finances.

My trip to Seville was an incredibly fulfilling experience. I got the chance to get to know many amazing people, and learn from people working first-hand with refugees. In times when it’s so easy to feel pessimistic about the future, I left with a feeling of hope that we can work together and build a more inclusive, supportive society.

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