The Academy of St Francis of Assisi (ASFA) recently held a week of activities and events in honour of Refugee Week.
Refugee Week has become a UK-wide festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary. Founded in 1998 and held every year, Refugee Week is becoming a growing global movement.
ASFA is home to many students who are refugees or asylum seekers. The awareness week encourages the understanding of why people are displaced, and the challenges they face when seeking safety, amongst students and staff.
This year, the academy was privileged to have students share their experience and culture with their ASFA family.
Two years ago, three Eritrean students came to the school and spoke very little English and struggled to communicate. During Refugee Week, students and staff watched in awe as they commanded the stage with confidence and spoke eloquently in front of the whole of Year 7 about their journeys and the political situation in Eritrea.
Student Alfonso also spoke about his experience of moving from the Congo.
In addition, a dedicated menu for the canteen was created which allowed students and staff to taste food from places such as Syria, Eritrea and Iran. Staff donated money as part of their lunch to the Asylum Link in Liverpool.
A conceptual art exhibition also took place in the school’s foyer. Students painted and decorated shoes to represent a refugee’s journey to safety.
Later in the week, students got to hear about Arthur Britney Joestar’s refugee experience. Arthur Joestar, from El Salvador, is the first non-binary refugee in the UK.
They talked about being the first non-binary person to receive refugee status after a judge concluded that they would face persecution for their identity if they returned to their home country. They have since settled in Liverpool.
Kate Allen, head of history, led the week’s events alongside 25 Year 10 students from the refugee organisation group.
Kate said: “Listening to talks from both our students and Arthur Joestar reminded us that being a refugee is only one part of a person’s identity and doesn’t define who they are.
“The week was a chance to celebrate diversity and share our cultural experiences. The theme this year was ‘We Cannot Walk Alone’, a fitting reminder that we all have a responsibility to support refugees and asylum seekers in our community.”