45 people shared personal migration stories
This spring the Estonian Refugee Council and the University of Tartu Centre for Ethics collected migration stories. In total, they received 45 personal migration stories, which will be used in preparing a new methodological tool for teachers and youth workers.
Most of the stories were written by people who left Estonia in boats during World War II. The stories described both the tragic escape and challenges in adapting to the new society. While most of the authors of these stories were children at the time of the escape, one author, a 96-year-old man living in the USA, recalled the painful journey through the eyes of a family man and father.
Project manager Ingi Mihkelsoo pointed out that a heartbreaking story was sent by a young woman, whose great-grandfather left Estonia for Brazil in search of a better life in 1926. “The woman who wrote her family’s story had never been to Estonia, but Estonia had been dear to her heart since early childhood, and a few years ago she proudly applied for Estonian citizenship in addition to her Brazilian citizenship,” said Mihkelsoo. “I went to Uus-Kalamaja street in Tallinn and looked for her great-grandfather’s last residence to send a few photos to Brazil, but unfortunately the house was no longer there,” Mihkelsoo added.
From the received stories the Estonian Refugee Council are going to select twelve, which are made into short and compact thrilling stories. From the stories a methodological tool for teachers and youth workers is prepared – a collection of twelve A2-size posters on the topic of migration. Due to the important historical background of several stories, the future study material can also be used, for example, in geography or history lessons.
The selected stories will be illustrated by designer Marja-Liisa Plats. All in all, 200 poster collections will be printed and distributed for free to educational institutions who participate in the training in the course of the project. In autumn 2017 the final result will be made available online.
Mihkelsoo said that during earlier training sessions educators had repeatedly mentioned that they lacked methodological materials to help them talk to students about different reasons for migration. “Inspired by the teachers’ interest, we found that we needed to create a new resource that would broaden the learners’ awareness of the various reasons for migration,” Mihkelsoo added.
Among authors of the stories there were both Estonians living abroad and foreigners living in Estonia. Thematically, the stories were about work, study and family-related migration, but also about escaping and emotional partings. Authors shared personal experiences, but some described the effect of their ancestors’ migration on their lives.
The project is managed by the Estonian Refugee Council and the University of Tartu Centre for Ethics in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Research, and it is funded by the Council of the Gambling Tax.
Additional information: Ingi Mihkelsoo, project manager, member of the board of Estonian Refugee Council, +37 2525 8702, ingi [ät] pagulasabi.ee