SOCIAL ACTIVITIES

Our Regular Activities | Artistic Workshops | Cooking | Athletics | Our Teams

Our 'Regular' Activities

 

Currently, we work with five different housing centres that host asylum seekers and are operated by the Aurore Association. On average we organise one to two activities in each centre per week, i.e. 5-10 activities per week in total, all of which are planned by a rotating team of 3 to 6 volunteers. These activities include museum visits (with or without guides); walking tours of Paris, during which team members with previous guide training offer explanations of city landmarks. In centres, we also organise film projections or seasonal activities like pumpkin carving for Halloween, tree-decorating around Christmas time, a joint birthday party… We are currently expanding our amount of ‘festive’ activities: concerts or dances that provide to asylum seekers the kind of social experiences they are most often excluded from. The aim of these regular activities is to provide some sort of stability and regularity in asylum seekers’ daily lives, while discovering Paris and its culture, spending agreeable moments together, and challenging the aid provider/aid beneficiary dichotomy that so often characterises relations with asylum seekers in other contexts (material distributions, French classes…).

 

Artistic Workshops

 

In two of the five centres we operate in, we also organise weekly artistic workshops: painting, pottery, freehand drawing… These activities often rely on the material that centres can provide us with, or that we can acquire externally. To this end, we are currently establishing a partnership with a group of cartoonists, and another project involving theatre classes with comedians, and dance classes with professional dancers. During these activities, all participants — asylum seekers and volunteers — are learners, as neither tend to have previous experiences in these domains, and all have something to gain from learning alternate forms of expression overcoming language barriers.

 

Cooking classes!

 

We also organise cooking classes, either directly in centres (once jointly preparing a buffet for over 200 people, who ate a selection of Afghan, Eritrean and Sudanese dishes) or externally (once preparing, with the help of two centre residents, an Afghan meal that was served in La Commune, during a dinner grouping both volunteers and asylum seekers). These moments allow us to exchange on respective dishes and culinary skills, while highlighting the talents of all participants equally.

 

Athletics

 

The ability to do sports is not only a recurring demand amongst asylum seekers, but also an excellent way to get to know each other and exchange with one another in a horizontal setting. Members of our sports team, featuring both centre residents and students (who aren’t necessarily Sciences Po Refugee Help volunteers!) gather once a week to play informal football matches. A more formal initiative, called the ‘No Border Club’, was also created, and is composed of both a football and a cricket team that train once a week. These teams are composed of Sciences Po students (who had registered for these kinds of sports at school) and centre residents. Sciences Po Refugee Help ensures that all players are provided with adequate material, and organises matches with other teams in the city.

 

Our Teams

 

Our Social Activities team is composed of 60 or so people, split up in the following manner:

 

  • The Core-5 teams: Each is assigned to a different housing centre and composed of 6 to 10 volunteers. These teams organise activities in a relatively independent way, adapting them to the centre, its available resources, residents’ wishes, etc. Externally, all teams regularly communicate on ideas for activities or possible partnerships; internally, volunteers lead the team’s weekly organisation of activities on a rotating basis, meaning that the teams are relatively horizontal in terms of structure.

 

  • The Kitchen team: Composed of 6 or so individuals, this team organises all culinary events, be it outside of centres (meaning that a venue like La Commune or Nouvelle Rôtisserie has to be located and booked) or inside centres, ergo coordinating with the relevant ‘main team’ described above.

 

  • The Sports team: Composed of 5 individuals, this team is mostly responsible for organising our weekly Sunday football matches.

 

  • Partnership coordinators: These three individuals are responsible for all of the administrative work that goes into looking for potential activities. This means creating a draft, weekly agenda listing all free activities which teams can sign up for, or contact those organisations with paid activities that interest us to enquire about free entries or discounts. This team also consolidates all contacts and partnerships so that we may continue and expand existing networks.