Kent welcomed back Little Amal – the 3.5 metre-tall living artwork of a young Syrian refugee child – to the Canterbury Campus for a special event that included the opportunity to dance a Dabke with her.
School students were invited to the campus for a special workshop where they learnt the dance, before Amal arrived and joined them and members of the public. Local refugee networks and charities were also at the event, giving visitors the chance to find out more about their work and get involved.
Little Amal set out from Turkey’s Syrian border in July 2021 before passing through Greece, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium on a walk that aimed to focus attention on the urgent needs of millions of young refugees worldwide and the need to change the narrative around human movement. Kent is the only UK University to have hosted a stage of The Walk. Since July 2021 Little Amal has travelled over 8,000km in support of refugees.
Dr Bahriye Kemal, from the University’s Migration and Movement Signature Research Theme, said: ‘Amal’s return was an outstanding achievement for our University, highlighting that we are a world leading research and civic engagement hub for migration and movement. It was of pivotal importance because it responded to timely issues and crisis that we are all facing, such as overcoming the pandemic and dealing with new policies of hostile environment. Our response was based on healing in light of the refugee week theme. The event taught and worked with 100 young people (age 13-18) from Schools across Kent who are our future, and who have missed so much learning just like displaced children Amal represents.
‘We were also joined by our novel prize winner Abdulrazak Gurnah who has taught us so much about migration. Together with Amal, displaced people with lived experience, charities that work with displaced people, young people, and members of staff, we healed through movement – dancing the Dabke, exchanged learning and experiences about migration and movement issues, met leading charities who are working at the frontline against the hostile environment. All towards making a concrete difference in and healing our divided world.’
(Images: Tim Stubbings)