One of our longtime partners, The British Council France, asked us if it was possible to answer some questions regarding refugees for their English classes for youth students. As part of the English curriculum for students between 10-11 years old, they read a book called Refugee Boy, which…While reading the book, students were curious to know more about who refugees are, why they exist and what it is like for them to migrate and come to France. Following their inquiries, we were contacted and agreed to make a video Q & A with George, Head of the Bilingual Section at the British Council in Paris, to answer all the students’ questions!
In the video below, you will learn a bit more about our team member Andee, in charge of the partnership with the British Council, as well as Intercultur’elles, our mentoring program for women.
During the interview, we were able to present our NGO to these children to help them understand our purpose and what we do every day: supporting refugees in continuing their higher education in France. They were very interested in learning more about our association but also, trying to understand why there are refugees, and how it is possible to welcome and integrate them in France.
Here are a few of the questions they asked us :
G: Why are there people leaving their country?
A: There are a lot of different reasons, it can be people who are fleeing war, people who are in political danger, potentially part of political opposition, and they face persecution for that. There are a lot of women who face violent situations as well. That is one major reason for women leaving their country. The reasons can vary, but there are many of them, and there are laws that protect these people and allow them to flee their country and be welcomed in other countries.
G: Are you able to welcome all the refugees that come to Paris?
A: We are not able to work with all the refugees, although we would love to! We are a small team, we are only four people working permanently full time in the charity. Since we started in 2018, we have supported about 1,500 refugees, it is quite a large number that increases every day! But we are only a small team of people, so our capacities are limited.
G: What happens to the refugees in the future? / Can refugees finally find a destination where they want to go?
A: I think it is important to know that nobody wants to leave where they come from, it is often not a choice and that is why they are refugees because they have left their country for reasons that were independent of their own decision-making. There are many people who want to arrive in France, because France is known as the country of human rights. From their perspectives, there are a lot of opportunities that make it a desirable destination. There are people who arrive that are happy they end up here, that they get opportunities that they deserve and that life is possible for them here.
In terms of what happens to them, it depends on the individual. We support people who got their bachelor’s degree or have done a master’s degree, who continue their work here. We work with people who are doctors, lawyers, people who work in communications, so it’s really every type of field! So people who are able to continue working and build a community in France, to meet people, to rebuild a life that makes them feel like France is their home. There are a lot of challenges.
After this video call, the students were inspired to organize a book donation for our non-profit. They gave us 109 books in different languages: English, Italian, French and Russian. All of these books are now a part of our collaborative library and available to all the student refugees we support.
We are grateful to the British Council for working with us and helping us in every way they can!
We also thank George, the teachers, the pupils and their families, who made this book donation a reality!