Irish Youth Express Ethical Challenges through Fiction and Photos

Early in August the Kenan Institute for Ethics in partnership with Ireland’s largest multi-cultural newspaper, Metro Eireann and the Gallery of Photography Ireland hosted the Fourth Annual Intercultural Young Writers and Photographers Competition. The national competition is part of Kenan’s more than ten-year effort to work with the Irish government and a range of NGO’s to usher in a new Ireland that reflects the countries increasingly multicultural population and culture.  Here, young people had the opportunity to depict the ethical challenges of this newly emerging Ireland through the art of fiction and photography. The submissions in this year’s competition came from across Ireland, from native born Irish as well as from recently arrived migrant and refugee youth.

One short story narrated by a teenager who is forced to decide whether to welcome the arrival of Syrian refugees in his small rural town or join his closest friends in violently opposing the newcomers was one of this year’s winning submissions.  Another short story that was awarded a prize in this year’s competition explored the meaning of Blackness in Dublin.  A set of poems depicted Starbucks as a crossroads of the many different cultures in Ireland.

The award ceremony was held at the Royal College of Physicians in downtown Dublin. The program featured remarks from Dublin’s Lord Mayor Ardmhera Nial Ring, Senator Aodhan O’Riordain and novelist and poet, Rebecca O’Connor.  In speeches that looked both backward, to Ireland’s past as a country of senders, and forward, to the possibilities of an increasingly diverse nation, the audience was encouraged to play an active role in shaping this new Ireland.  The ceremony concluded with a reflection from Duke Sophomore Andrew Carlins. Andrew spoke eloquently about his time this summer working in Dublin with the Irish Refugee Resettlement Program (IRRP) in the Department of Justice and Equality.