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Being Human Festival

For many years, Wales has been a place of safety for people needing a home. People who were forced to leave their countries for various reasons, have found Wales to be a welcoming and nurturing place to flourish as a refugee.

This idea was explored on November 21st as a part of the Being Human Festival with a theme of “Lost & Found” in partnership with Swansea University, Swansea City of Sanctuary and Swansea Museum.

Dr. Kathryn Jones led the workshop by introducing the audience to the history of the European travellers to Wales 1750 -2010 project. The project “uncovered a vast number of travel accounts to Wales in this period, the majority of which are written in French or German. The researchers discovered a broad variety of reasons for European travellers to have come to Wales: from those seeking a romantic idyll, to industrial spies in the Victorian era and refugees from Nazi Germany. This helps us understand Wales better: stories of refugees and exiles have emerged, and a store of detailed descriptions of Welsh landscapes, buildings and ruins has emerged. These are completely new resources for studying Wales, and broaden travel writing to encompass more than English-language portrayals of Wales.”

The audience then had the privilege to hear the story of two contemporary asylum seekers, what they had to go through and where they are now. When talking about arriving in the UK, Amber stated that “the only positive was the feeling of being at a safe place where humans are treated like humans.”

GT on the other hand, feels “comfortable saying I am a Swansea person, it is my home and my children are Welsh” This was followed by an open conversation with the speakers.

The audience then were introduced to three refugees from the past: Käte Bosse-Griffiths, Yann Fouéré and Ellen Davis. Their stories were read and discussed followed by a reflection of the idea of home and an exploration of what ‘home’ meant to the workshop participants.