18 December is United Nations’ International Migrants Day, and ‘Migration with Dignity’ is the theme this year. The choices that people make in life are dignified ‘by paying them respect, and we respect them by treating those who make such choices with dignity’.
This year, the theme of ‘Migration’ and the European Year of Cultural Heritage brought together two cultural heritage programmes, Europeana and People’s Collection Wales, to work together for the first time. Their aim was to capture individuals’ personal experiences of migration, so they may be shared, understood, and respected.
A Thousand Voices – A Multicultural Community in Newport
Last month, a Collection Day was organised in Newport to capture the stories of people who had moved to Wales from overseas. The event was co-ordinated and held by People’s Collection Wales as part of Europeana’s campaign to hold Collection Days across Europe on the theme of ‘migration’.
This was the second of two events that People’s Collection Wales held in Wales as part of the campaign – the first was at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff in July. There were eighteen events across Europe altogether, with others in Brussels, Limerick, Utrecht, Luxembourg, Sibiu, Den Haag, Belgrade, Zagreb, Dublin and Pisa.
Members of the local community in Newport brought along photographs, documents, artworks and other various objects which helped illustrate the story of their movement. The materials were digitized and will be published on Europeana and the People’s Collection websites. Many shared their stories through oral recollections too.
A total of 15 individuals shared their stories as part of the Collection Day including:
- Rahila, who moved from Pakistan to Wales in 1979 after her grandparents had arranged for her to marry a gentleman living in Newport. She had three children and worked for several mental health organisations, raising awareness particularly among the BME community.
- Afia, a former lecturer, also originally from Pakistan. She, along with other members of her family moved to Wales in 2007. As part of the Collection Day, Afia contributed a mixed material photo album that was sewed by a Stitching Group at Community House. Her photographs include the peace celebrations of ‘Peace Mala’ at Newport, a Mehndi party at Community House, and a personal photo of her family near the twelfth highest mountain in Pakistan ‘Rakaposhi’.
- Claire, who was born and raised in Houston, Texas. She met her husband Richard, from Wales, whilst studying in California. Both moved to Wales in 1975, with their five year old daughter and three year old son. Claire led a successful career as a teacher and head teacher after moving to Wales.
- Roy, originally from Jamaica, he moved to Birmingham at 19 years of age to start an engineering apprenticeship. He relocated to Newport in 1962 where he continued his career in engineering. Roy, along with his wife, raised a family in Newport.
- Ingrid was born and raised in London, before her family moved to Gloucester when she was 17. After completing her teaching PGCE in Leicester, Ingrid moved to Sierra Leone to work as a maths and physics teacher. She returned to the UK and accepted a teaching position at Newport in 1972. Ingrid also shared her grandmother’s story during the Collection Day and contributed her memoir as an item to be digitised. Her grandmother, Lena Kasmir, was born into a Jewish family near Kiev (now Ukraine) in 1894. Due to prevalence of anti-Semitism at the beginning of the 20th century, her family eventually moved to London, where Ingrid’s mother was born and raised.
Ten years of People’s Collection Wales and Europeana
Both Europeana and People’s Collection Wales this year celebrated the tenth anniversary.
Europeana is Europe’s digital cultural heritage platform. Since launching in 2008, the number of objects on the Europeana platform has increased more than tenfold from 4.5 million to more than 50 million. NLW has worked on other projects with Europeana, giving access through the platform to some of our most well-known digital collections, most notably the Geoff Charles and John Thomas photographic collections and the Welsh landscape collection. We have also contributed to the EuropeanaTravel, EuropeanaCloud and the Europeana280 projects, and, most recently, the ‘Rise of Literacy‘ project.
People’s Collection Wales is a cultural heritage programme funded by the Welsh Government. It seeks to capture and share the stories of the people of Wales. This digital platform gives individuals, communities and memory institutions a place to share and curate their collections in meaningful ways. The People’s Collection continues to collect stories of individuals and communities in Wales and beyond.
Do you have a story to share? Or perhaps you would like to capture stories in your community? We’d love to help you to share your stories with Wales and the world. Contact us at People’s Collection Wales.
Elen Haf Jones, Digital Access Project Officer & Dafydd Tudur, Head of the Digital Access Section