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); events organized by the city (Carnaval, Nuit Blanche, etc.); picnics; cooking, etc . In centres, we also organize film projections or seasonal activities like 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…).
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.
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 Social Activities team is composed of 60 or so people, split up in the following manner:
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