How can design be used to help migrant and refugee teenagers in Bordeaux with community integration at school?
Aim and Objective
Bordeaux is perceived as a beautiful, historic and wealthy city. The architecture, history and wine industry make the city very attractive to residents and visitors alike. However, concealed behind the façade of this aesthetically beautiful and apparently affluent place, is a state of crisis in which social services and healthcare are cracking under the pressure of a growing migrant and refugee population. Through research in previous modules, I have pinpointed an area of intervention in the migrant and refugee crisis that I believe could make a huge difference – not just in terms of alleviating the immediate situation, but, in the longer term, by acting as a locus for educating the next generation on the importance of diversity and inclusion within their school community.
The Problem: At present, there is no form of integration support for migrant and refugee teenagers joining the French education system. They arrive on their first day of school, often feeling frightened, isolated and with limited French language skills. The French students already attending the school have a lack of education surrounding diversity within their community and therefore do not understand how to welcome the newcomers into their school.
This leads to a lack of understanding and sympathy towards refugees and migrants living in their society. Also an ignorance towards the importance of having diversity within a community.
The Solution: Creating an inclusive program that involves welcoming and supporting diversity within the French education system. This will be in two parts: a digital design application incorporating a buddy-matching algorithm, and a detailed hard copy reference manual for program leaders and teachers to support the continuing provision of collaborative social and educational opportunities for both French children and newcomers.
The Réuni program represents a new approach to integrating migrant and refugee children into the French schooling system. The program not only provides a nurturing and supportive educational environment for newcomers but also helps native French children to understand and embrace diversity within their community. réuni aims to make the newcomer feel welcome, understood, and accepted within the school from day one, carefully monitored and encouraged by program leaders who have been selected to organise and oversee the activities within the program. réuni has been designed to be versatile and flexible so that schools can take their own approach depending on resources, facilities, and timetables within the school. Other factors might also argue in favour of varying the approach to workshops and activities such as cultural differences and individual vulnerabilities. réuni is sensitive to the fact that some activities suggested may not be appropriate for certain groupings and situations.
Réuni is divided into two key stages. The first stage is a digital design application that is made up of a questionnaire that the students and potential students can log in to and participate in. They can create a fun continuous line drawn avatar with colourful shapes and choose what their favourite subjects and hobbies are. The matching algorithm then pairs a new student with one that already attends the school, meaning each new student attending the school will have a buddy for support and friendship; to learn from as well as teach. The application can be downloaded for free via the App Store on the QR code on the réuni website.
The manual is a comprehensive guide for the members of staff involved in the program or program leaders. The manual is filled with all the information they will need about how to: welcome and introduce new students to their buddies; design, structure and organise workshops, and ensure adherence to program goals and ethical requirements.
How has your practice developed while studying the MA in Graphic Design with a global cohort?
Having come from a fashion design background, I felt that my experiences within the design industry were fairly focused on one area.
The diverse and inclusive projects, experiences and community on the Graphic Design MA course at Falmouth University has opened my eyes to the possibilities of how I, as a designer can apply my skills to so many industries and sectors, and in the process, have a positive social impact on the projects I work on as well and those within my locality.
I have learnt that studying within an international cohort can provide such rich and diverse perspectives on design, and spark discussions and questions that I would not necessarily ask myself when designing independently.
Throughout the course, I have felt supported, accepted, and included. I am leaving the course more confident within myself and as a graphic designer.
Please follow this external platform link, to view the Final MA Project in full and/or portfolio documentation.