2017 DukeEngage Dublin Letters Home

 

During the summer of 2017, students in the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ DukeEngage: Dublin program are writing reflections of their time working with immigrants and refugees in the Dublin area which are being published in the weekly Irish publication Metro Eireann.

Narratives and Stories by Caroline Wang

Caroline Wang with Irish President Michael D. Higgins

This past Tuesday, my fellow DukeEngage members and I honored World Refugee Day by attending an event hosted by the Dublin City Interfaith Forum, which highlighted refugee stories of faith and hope. This event was accompanied by a slideshow of artist-drawn images depicting the migration process. While each work of art shed a unique light on the refugee experience, the image that stuck out to me most was a sketch of a girl drowning in the ocean, weighed down by a television screen broadcasting news commentary. It’s been three days and I still can’t get that image out of my head.

Throughout the past week, I’ve thought a lot about the role that media plays in shaping what we believe to be the refugee experience. In the United States, most of the information that I hear regarding refugees and migration comes from national news outlets. I could argue that some media outlets handle the crisis better than others, but I don’t believe I could name a single one that hasn’t placed a strong emphasis on negative reporting. These are the headlines that we are inundated with – tales of hate crimes and terrorist attacks and bloodshed. The problem with this method of journalism is that the public isn’t told anything that it didn’t already know about the refugee crisis.

With nearly 65 million people in the world falling under the category of “refugee,” it’s incredibly naïve of us to believe that we have heard all of their stories. So then, why do we keep hearing the same narratives every day? The repeated stories we hear of loss, separation, and terror lead many individuals to either pity or loathe those involved in the crisis. While I will never understand the vitriolic response to refugees that some people have, pity is easier to understand. The stories we hear regarding these individuals are often so negative that we may believe that this group of nearly 65 million people is entirely helpless. However, this is often not the case, and most refugees don’t want our pity any more than they want our hate.

At the same event, a Syrian refugee shared some of her experiences in Ireland. She spoke of the incredible opportunities she’s had since her arrival, and how she is now a small business owner and entirely self-sufficient. On the verge of tears, she felt the need to emphasis that she is not a burden on anyone. The word “burden” comes up a lot in the debates surrounding the refugee crisis, as if these aren’t remarkably resilient people self-motivated by the thought of a better, safer life. In Ireland, many refugee minors perform extremely well in the education system. Like the event speaker who now runs her own business, refugees who can enter the job market often contribute greatly to society. These people are far from being burdens, or terrorists, or whatever else sensationalist media portrays them as. They are complex humans who deserve to live without the social stigma that being a refugee carries.

Instead of broadcasting negative news, which highlights differences, I would hope that media outlets would seek to portray the refugee experience in all of its fullness or as much as is possible.  This kind of coverage would allow readers to see refugees as people like themselves. This kind of coverage, moreover, is critical to changing opinion and breaking down prejudice. Indeed, these newcomers deserve to have their lives–which are as complicated and nuanced as our own–acknowledged, rather than merely pitied or criticized.

Childhood and Age by Hannah Palczuk

While the old adage “age is just a number” is applicable to much of life, it certainly does not apply to the legalities of the asylum process. In the past four weeks that I have been stationed with the Social Work Team for Separated Children Seeking Asylum, which cares for unaccompanied minors in Ireland, three asylum seekers have been age-assessed and determined to be older than eighteen years old. Whether they knew the benefits of being considered a minor in the Irish asylum process and lied to immigration officials or were confused when the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) referred them to us, they are now in hostels and direct provision centers, additions to the faceless numbers waiting patiently to make their cases to stay in Ireland.

And yet, despite the privileges that being younger than eighteen provides in the system, most of the young people I work with by and far reject the term “child” in its colloquial sense. When I once unwittingly referred to one of our clients as a child, he seemed offended and promptly quipped that if he was a child, I was a grandmother.

Though his remark was obviously hyperbolic, the young man was correct in that we had different standards of maturity and concepts of age. While eighteen is the age of adulthood in Ireland and the US, it seems arbitrary to those from different cultures where sixteen year olds are not considered children and might even be parents. I understand that there needs to be a set number for legal adulthood because people can follow slippery slope logic to the extreme, but some fifteen year olds are equipped with the skills of adulthood and some nineteen year olds (like this one) are still figuring it out.

While clients might fall under the legal category of “child,” they have had to mature quicker than most of us. One of our clients is a twenty year-old who has been acting in loco parentis for his younger brother since the two arrived, and more recently for the rest of his siblings and mom after the Red Cross helped locate and reunify them. He has been acting like an adult since age thirteen, has known greater responsibility and pressure than most people experience in a lifetime, and yet has the same outwardly carefree and youthful disposition as others his age.

Some of our newer clients arrived in Ireland as part of the Irish Refugee Protection Program (IRPP) after having spent months in the Calais Jungle camps and having left home years before that. They have survived brutal living conditions alone and lived without supervision for much of their lives. I am not trying to suggest that the young people I work with are in any way stunted – they are incredibly resilient and talented, and they have much to offer Dublin in terms of economic and cultural value. However I do believe that in the race for the legal status that can jumpstart many of our clients’ lives after years of waiting, important foundational development can be neglected.

As children age out of our system and into aftercare at age eighteen, how do we simultaneously prepare them for adulthood, acknowledge their right to proper childhoods (whatever this entails), and avoid belittling them or babying them after all that they have experienced?

In terms of development and maturation, is it possible to regress for the sake of progress? Should these young people be given the opportunity to experience some of the carefreeness that they might have missed out on and that we associate with youth? Do they want that?

The Social Work Team’s guiding ideology is that of child-centeredness, meaning its members view and treat clients as children before they see them as asylum seekers. After having spent four weeks seeing what this translates to in everyday practice, I believe that it really is the best policy for the young people in our care. Child-centeredness informs social workers’ everyday agendas as they schedule dental appointments for their clients, sign them up for sports clubs, file their legal proceedings for them, and encourage them to think about education and their futures. The social workers cannot replace the void of missing parents, but they can help young people feel supported throughout the emotional and logistical challenges of the asylum process. Anyone, regardless of age and maturity level, finds comfort in the idea that someone else holds their best interest at heart.

The Monster Under the Bed by Saheel Chodavadia

The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) at the Department of Justice and Equality.

Evil. Corrupt. Lazy. Fascists.

Direct Provision Accommodation Centres.

Prison. Concentration Camp. Isolation. Death Row.

I had read about it. I had heard about it. The Reception and Integration Agency, the monster under the bed.

I haven’t met a nicer monster.

RIA is an agency within the Department of Justice and Equality in Ireland that focuses on asylum seeker accommodation and provision, including providing for social welfare allowances, free room and board, and a number of other complimentary services including but not limited to utility, food, laundry, literacy services, religious services, etc.

I am studying psychology at Duke University. Understanding the way perceptions are formed, transformed, mutilated, and juxtaposed is a breathtaking foray into the depths of the human mind and its complex intricacies. Despite these complexities of the mind, people still subject RIA to the simplest of mentalities, the mob mentality.

Often people make the mistake of thinking that everything is black and white, that one story is the world. They miss the gray, the infinite stories behind the story, and are satisfied with a scapegoat. RIA has long taken the blame for asylum seeker conditions.

When I found out I would be working at RIA, I immediately scoured the internet for anything mentioning RIA. Nothing but negative commentary. It’s week four now but I remember day one as vividly as yesterday. I walked in, thinking that the office was going to be a monotonous gray space full of regretful, cynical workers. I could not have been more wrong.

To have such low expectations and then to have them shattered so spectacularly and through every ceiling imaginable is mind-bending. I walked inside.

A cacophony of noise. Bustling. Phone calls. Conversations.

A swirl of color. Decorated desks. Well-dressed workers. Open windows.

A plethora of smells. Tea. Cake. Coffee.

And a vibe unmatched. Seriousness. Laughter. Critical Thought.

The most significant thing people forget about RIA is that it’s not an entity, it’s an amalgamation of people. Each individual brings a different perspective to the table and works in tandem with others to bring about change. When people say they dislike RIA, they are saying that they dislike the Principal Officer who bikes to and from work to go to meetings and conventions to continuously improve asylum seeker accommodation centers. They say they the Assistant Principal Officer who meticulously reads through and listens to complaints and spends hours brainstorming how to resolve the situation. They say they dislike the Higher Executive Officer who takes calls with contractors non-stop to ensure everything is running smoothly in the centers. They say they dislike Clerical Officer who has already become proficient at contractor relations only a year in. They say they dislike the twenty or so other people involved with RIA, each with their own individual lives trying to make the best of the situation they are in. The people are great, sure, but why does that not translate into maximum happiness for asylum seekers in accommodation centers?

Resources. As a government agency, or for that matter any agency, RIA is limited by the resources it has or has been given. There is no infinite pool of housing and staff and food and electricity to draw from. Each provision provided has to be methodically reviewed within a supply chain that must be reliable and sustainable.

The Direct Provision system is not perfect, not even close. And yet, the people of RIA are doing everything in their power and sometimes even beyond that to improve and ensure that the lives of the asylum seekers are as comfortable and as independent as possible. The McMahon Report Recommendations are almost realized and RIA has been working non-stop to catalyze a nationwide shift from a Dining Hall system of food distribution with pre-prepared meals to a Food Hall system with food available for cooking at home. This is the work of the people of RIA.

Someone in RIA once told me “I do not tell people I work at RIA because I do not want to cause problems”.

At a certain point, you have to wonder if all the terrible atrocities people associate RIA with are as malignant as the people are to RIA. In this mind-bending game of perception, the people have embraced RIA as the scapegoat for any asylum-seeker related problem. With an unrivaled, sometimes perilous self-righteousness in NGOs, RIA has become a nightmare that is truly working to a dream.

Coming from the United States and the current government, I can understand the citizens’ need to be critical of government proceedings. Yet, to be ignorant and blinded by the mob mentality of hatred towards RIA solely for its status as a government agency, is something that NGOs and the people need to realize may be causing more harm than good. RIA focuses on cooperation, with asylum seekers living in the Direct Provision System, and with other agencies and groups willing to work to make the Direct Provision System as comfortable as possible. And yet, in this tumultuous war against RIA, the people have decided to fight instead of cooperate. It is time to embrace cooperation. It is time for perceptions to change. It is time to remember that RIA is a group of people and they are people with good intentions. It is time to realize that the monster under the bed is not always scary.

Finding a Path Among Endless Possibilities by Steve Hassey

“Are Scouts dark?”

Michelle, a 7-year-old girl looks up at me with large, questioning eyes. Joshua, a boy of 8, pulls at my arm—he wants to leave Clondalkin Towers, the direct provision center where he lives, for the Scouting den where we will be hosting a meeting that evening. I pull away from Joshua to turn back toward Michelle, my frantic motion betraying my shock as I fail to keep my cool.

My mind is moving quickly. I ask Michelle to repeat what she had just asked. She asks the same question and, as I freeze with a sudden indecision about how to deal with this tricky subject, I can feel her impatience grow.

I freeze because this is the exact question I have spent my first two weeks trying to get Scouting Ireland to answer. And on that rainy Tuesday, after two and a half weeks in Ireland, I still don’t know.

Michelle is a person of color, just like every other child I will be leading from Clondalkin Towers, a direct provision center that houses asylum seekers who are attempting to resettle in Ireland without the resources to live on their own. We are going to the local Scouting Den to interact with a group of Beavers, Scouts aged between 6 and 8, that is entirely composed of white children. RIA, a part of Ireland’s Department of Justice, has funded this program as a way to increase interactions between asylum seekers and Irish nationals.

This summer, I am working with Scouting Ireland, an organization of 50,000 that, as far as I can tell from my own limited experiences, is a relatively homogenous group filled with middle class white children. In three short words, Michelle has found a way to voice my every concern about the organization I am serving, and everything that I would hope to change about it.

Throughout my short time in Ireland, I have heard plenty of talk about Ireland’s increasing diversity. This past Thursday, Muyre, a coordinator at a school whose children I work with every week and a native Dubliner, explained to me that she did not see a black person until she was 8, and now she works with students of color every day. But, as Ireland continues to grow in terms of cultural diversity, the question remains how these newcomers will integrate into Irish culture, and how welcoming the Irish will be. The programs on which I am conducting research present just one path out of endless possibilities through which to accomplish this.

Upon entering the Scouting Den, the children from Clondalkin Towers were immediately taken aback and did not want to join the circle of scouts, in part because the leader, Aiman, was in the midst of briefing his scouts.

This immediately created the uncomfortable image of the white children in a circle on one side of the room, and the children of color opposite them. As I look at Michelle in this situation, I knew her question has been answered. Without the demographic diversity to reflect the surrounding communities, Scouts may be an uncomfortable place to minorities within the Irish community.

After overcoming these barriers to inclusion, the scouts and children from the direct provision center split into four groups to complete the activities planned for the day. They get to know each other through icebreakers and learn about the food of each other’s cultures. A final, striking moment from Tuesday’s meeting came at its end. The children from Clondalkin Towers had been incessantly asking us the week prior for a neckerchief, the ultimate sign of Scouting. As we gave each child their own neckerchief, pairs of eyes lit up.

Each of these children—Irish or asylum seeker, black or white, boy or girl—has a different background, a different story to tell. My task is to teach them to listen to and value the stories of others; this is the only way that they will truly learn beyond the scope of the classroom, and beyond the scope of their homes. Only through listening and interacting can the Scouts escape the label of asylum seeker to appreciate the complex humanity of their peers at Clondalkin Towers.

Interculturalism in practice through youth work will always be uncomfortable. Children will have to learn to push their own boundaries and to learn when they have crossed a line. Ireland will have to work to create inclusive spaces where people will feel safe and comfortable regardless of their identities. As Ireland becomes more diverse, this intercultural exchange will only become more important.

Moving Beyond Labels by Shweta Lodha

Over the last few days, I have been working at SPIRASI, Ireland’s only NGO devoted to providing education, integration, and rehabilitation services to adult asylum seekers or refugee victims of torture and trauma. In preparation to teach my own English class on health literacy, I have recently been serving as an assistant English teacher to students with little to no proficiency in the language.

The first time I walked in to a SPIRASI classroom, I saw only a sea of culturally diverse migrants. Labels like the “North Korean student,” “the Iranian refugee,” and “Syrian asylum seeker” came to me instinctively, as I unwittingly matched their countries of origin to reflect their entire identity. However, with every passing day, I am beginning to understand exactly how limiting this type of perspective can be. While I have much more to learn about the students, when I walk in to the classroom now, I see Nona, the sweet, elderly woman with a talent for baking, matched in intensity only by her developed knowledge of current events. I see Joban, our goofy and fun-loving class-clown who picks up novel vocabulary words with a speed unmatched by most. I see Samuel, a connoisseur of music and lover of dance, currently in the process of releasing yet another album. Day after day, I am coming to better understand the wide array of personalities, experiences, and cultural backgrounds all clumped together under the single word, “refugee.” *names modified to maintain privacy of clients*

While I feel I am finally starting to form relationships that trespass the confinements of identity labels, I have so much more to learn about the students. My personal desire to solve the puzzle of the students’ unique identities incentivizes me to continue teaching them as much English as possible. The more I teach them, the better they are able to express themselves, and consequently, help me understand who they truly are. Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, “The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” It wasn’t until I started to work with individuals whose expression of self was confined to the limited set of words they knew that I recognized the truth encapsulated by Wittgenstein’s words.

As I contemplate what it truly means to be a refugee or asylum seeker through my work, I reflect upon my own identity. Growing up to immigrant parents, I have often danced between two different cultures. While Hindi was my first language, I was fortunate to have gone to a school that taught me English from a young age. As I work with students limited in their English but rich in their cultural backgrounds, I am beginning to recognize the influential role language has played in my own bicultural upbringing. With words, I have felt empowered to paint a picture of the culturally disparate grounds that have bred many of my own unique values, beliefs, and thoughts. As the weeks go on, I hope to continue providing my students with English language tools for them to similarly express themselves to the world and in turn, make Ireland their own.

Though part of my job is to help teach English and eventually implement my own health literacy course, the students have taught me much more about the gravity of strong language and communication skills than I could ever hope to demonstrate during our lessons. As I go forward, I hope to further understand the undefinable quality of words like refugee and asylum seeker.

Journey of the Heart by Bill McCarthy

“Migration is a journey of the heart,” said the Rev. Alan Hilliard, chaplaincies coordinator for the Dublin Institute of Technology, during a recent interfaith forum on refugee stories. It is a trial of emotions – a business heavy and hard – but also an opportunity for growth.

It is a journey of the heart, he said. But sometimes the heart is not so easily accessible. Sometimes migration, in all of its delicacy, is a story left untold.

In Ireland, an ever-diversifying nation that in 2016 saw more immigration than emigration, refugee and migrant stories are becoming increasingly relevant to the national narrative. Particularly valuable are the contributions of men and women too young to remember the more homogenous Ireland of centuries past. For these young people – both those born in country and those having arrived from elsewhere – Ireland is a diverse collection of religions, races, beliefs and nationalities. They believe in an Ireland that is entirely their own, and many of them hold that Ireland dear to their hearts.

Metro Éireann, Ireland’s first and only bimonthly multicultural newspaper and the organization with which I will be spending my summer, paints an integrative picture of this modern version of Ireland. Having operated since its conception as a forum for intercultural communication, Metro Éireann offers an avenue through which migrant peoples can have their stories shared.

Editor Chinedu Onyejelem, himself an immigrant from Nigeria, understands at his core that the Irish narrative would not be so dynamic without the many migrant and minority communities in and outside of Dublin. His mission, it seems, is to shed light on the individual migrant experiences that together make up this narrative – to probe the hearts and tell the stories of those whose tales are typically forsaken.

Each individual experiences his or her own version of Ireland. Each has a unique sense of belonging – an individually tailored conception of community and culture. Each has his or her own story of stagnation or migration – of home and of Ireland – and each has his or her own capacity to make that story known.

I want to help make those stories known. I want to make at least a modest contribution towards dialogue and understanding during my time in Ireland. With my work at Metro Éireann, I may have that chance. This summer marks the third consecutive during which Metro Éireann will host an intercultural writing competition in collaboration with the Kenan Institute of Ethics. This summer, like in the previous two, a Duke student has been tasked with organizing this competition. It is my turn to take on the project and, though sometimes intimidated by the scope of the challenge, I will do my best to plan an event that honors the newspaper’s commitment to giving migrants and minorities a voice.

The writing competition invites young writers between the ages of 14 and 21 to submit original works of fiction that explore the ethical challenges associated with intercultural diversity in Ireland. It is an effort aimed at integration, designed to foster the development of the next generation of Irish writers while at the same time enriching Irish intercultural life. Ultimately, the goal is to enable young people – and particularly young migrants – to tell their stories.

The writing process, of course, will daunt, baffle and dishearten many young adults, and the challenge for me will be to help them trust that their words hold value. I imagine that those for whom English is not a first language will feel especially intimidated. My hope, though, is that these individuals will come to our workshop sessions, engage with their struggle, and recognize the power of storytelling. My hope is that they will link their mind to their heart and write from the depths of their experiences.

Above all, my hope is that they will come to understand that migration is indeed a journey of the heart, and that they will tell us the way in which their hearts experienced such a journey. I want to know their migrations; I want to know their hearts; I want to know their conceptions of Ireland.

I want to know their stories.

Shared Culture, Shared Identity? by Mary Aline Fertin

The construction of a supportive community and integration into the local population are two sides of the relocation coin that migrants to any new destination must learn to handle. In thinking about how it is possible to balance these efforts, I keep coming back to the issue of constructing identity, and how one’s identity is shaped by and informs their perception of the world around them. Specifically, What is Irishness? Who claims this belonging? And how does our construction of an Irish identity impact the integration process for migrant populations?

In our orientation meetings with historians, public servants, and social scientists, a frustrating but exciting common thread has emerged: there is no definitive answer to any of these questions, but we should keep trying to answer them.

As a starting point, some have made a link between Irish identity and ancestry. Ireland’s unique history is an immense factor in this association. This island has long been fairly homogeneous, leading Irish identity to be confounded with an ethnic typecast. Due to the Irish diaspora – a scattering of the population across the world following the great famine – approximately 17 million people across the world have Irish heritage. Irish is said to run in people’s veins. So much so, in fact, that the concept of an Irish-American identity is very present in the United States – the sense of community has been preserved. A focus has been placed on creating a global Irish connection, by creating online portals for families with Irish heritage to connect with one another, or prompting initiatives for individuals to discover their Irish heritage.

Yet, I am not sure that a purely ethnic or ancestry-based framework encompasses enough of what it means to be Irish. It seems to me that this point of view would make integration for migrant communities nearly impossible. Furthermore, Ireland is facing strong immigration flows from within and outside the EU: in a country of 4.7 million residents, 79,300 immigrants a year is a staggering number (a net immigration total of 3,100, with very significant emigration flows at 76,200, according to the Central Statistics Office’s Population and Migration Estimates from 2016). With approximately 12% of the population comprised of foreign nationals, it seems absurd to rely solely on ancestry to determine belonging.

So, perhaps a shared culture is the key to a shared identity? In just a week here, it has become clear that my outsider’s perception of Irish culture – beer, leprechauns, shamrocks, and hurling – has been wildly misguided. These symbols appear to be fondly regarded, but are understood to be more of a capitalist venture for Irish tourism than markers of identity. Here, the British colonial past will have a much fiercer influence than this constructed mythology. Colonial symbols still line the streets of Dublin, the King’s crown prominent in various monuments, and the letters VR (for Queen Victoria Regina) frequently seen around the city. The buildings lining O’Connell street were built in the 20th century, but appear much older as they were reconstructed from the rubble left in the wake of the anti-colonial Easter Rising of 1916. The largest political parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gail, emerged from opposing sides of the civil war between post-colonial pro-treaty and anti-treaty forces. As such, one conception of Irish identity could be largely based on the ideas of conflict, independence, and colonial tension (this will be interesting to explore as Ireland is currently trying to determine its place in the EU and in relation to the UK post-Brexit). Furthermore, this is a form of community construction that is significantly more welcoming to migrant families: when children are integrated into Irish schools, this historical perspective will be passed on to the second generation.

However, this must be tempered by the recognition that we live in increasingly complex and multifaceted societies. Ireland’s net positive immigration, particularly the strong refugee flows from areas in crises, will be bringing in a huge variety of culture, religions, historical perspectives. In fact, the sense of colonial tension may already be shared by a number families who emigrated from former colonial nations. Perhaps this sense of Irish identity, which is so vibrant and tangible amongst the proud population yet so difficult to define, is evolving to signify an accepting multiculturalism. It has been thrilling to witness how Dublin itself is constructed around a blend of cultures – a Catholic Polish church is built next to an Anglican one, and they confusingly share the same name, and a small but vibrant polish community resides right by the Millenium Spire. Dublin is home to the second largest mosque in Europe, and the senior staff member I spoke to emphasized that the Irish were very welcoming, likely due to their own experience with mass emigration. The challenge ahead for the organizations we are placed in this summer, working in resettlement and integration, now seems to lie in how to aid migrants in their transition to Irish society whilst promoting a culture which will, in the end, broaden its definition of community rather than restrict itself to a difficulty defined national identity.

Dubliners Then and Now by Hannah Palczuk

Our group of Duke students swerved through stopped traffic near the Dublin GPO, protected by bright blue helmets and safety vests that immediately labeled us as tourists. It was June 16th, Bloomsday, a celebration of James Joyce’s Ulysses and a reason for many locals to leave work early and head to the pub. We however were on a bike tour of the city structured around James’ 1914 collection of short stories, Dubliners, accompanied by a guide named Alice who pedaled rather quickly considering that she was in an ankle-length skirt and cowboy boots. As we stopped in various neighborhoods where Joyce himself had lived, we listened to excerpts from “The Boarding House,” “An Encounter,” and “Eveline.”

In “Eveline,” a young woman is torn between following the man that wants to marry her and take her to Buenos Aires or staying to care for her abusive father and younger siblings in Dublin. In the final scene, she is physically and emotionally paralyzed, pinned in place on the dock as the ship leaves without her. Alice explained that paralysis was an important theme in Joyce’s stories about Dublin, as he believed the city itself to be trapped in time and held back by tradition, the Church, and its relationship with England. As a boy, he had wanted to escape Dublin, despite the special place it held in his heart. Joyce eventually left Dublin by the same port as his fictional character Eveline, traveling around Europe before seeking asylum in Switzerland.

While Dublin in the early twentieth century might have felt static to an artist as avant-garde as Joyce, it is harder to define now, propelled forward by new cultures and avenues of communication. If Joyce had written about Dubliners today, I wonder what the composition of his group of characters would be. Likely there would be people of different races, gender identities, sexual orientations, and religious backgrounds. But perhaps there would be that same feeling of hopelessness for many, particularly Dublin’s growing population of refugees and asylum seekers. Though they might not be trapped in their home countries, they probably feel stuck in the asylum process itself as they wait in direct provision centers, only recently gaining the right to work as they anticipate their case decisions. The slowness of the city and of bureaucracy can hinder efforts to reconnect with family, culture, and community.

This stasis is a part of the process of migration that is often overlooked, but some of the organizations we will be working with this summer seek to address it. The office I am placed at works with separated children, those under age eighteen who entered Ireland to seek asylum and now are in the care of the state until their claims are processed. Though I have only briefly met some of the social workers I will learn from this summer, I am already impressed by how well they know the children placed in their care, and the emphasis they place upon children being treated as children before they are treated as asylum seekers. I am hopeful that efforts like this can help make the waiting period for asylum seekers seem less restrictive so that the city I have had the privilege of experiencing is available to all Dubliners.