MELLIE Project 

(Migrant English Language Literacy and Intercultural Education)

The MELLIE project is an extra-curricular project designed to facilitate language and cultural exchange between DCU volunteer staff and students and asylum seekers and refugees living in Direct Provision. It enables participants to engage experientially and constructively, through storytelling, with the global challenges of migration and reception, hallmarks of the DCU sanctuary initiative. It is largely based on a model developed by Dr Peter Sheekey of Dublin City Intercultural Language Services (DCILS).

MELLIE 1 2017

The project commenced as a six-week pilot in 2017 with DCU Quality Improvement (QuID) funding and recruited 40+ participants from DCU and Mosney DP. It was co-facilitated by Philip McKinley (DCU Chaplain) and Dr Veronica Crosbie (School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies,DCU). The final session was captured by RTE for their mini series ‘Ministry of Hope, which was broadcast on 12th October 2017.

There was a visit by DCU Staff and Students to the Mosney Direct Provision Centre itself and also a special viewing of Mount Temple Comprehensive School's play 'Éire: Land of 100,000 Welcomes', which dealt with the challenging themes of reception and perception of refugees in Ireland.

“When people ask me “who am I?” and, “where am I from?” I usually tell them my name is Ahmad, I’m not too bad. Syria is now a war zone. This saddens me deeply, as it used to be so beautiful but that beauty is gone and the only thing I see there is death. But in Ireland I see life”.

Ahmad interviewed by Emmanuella, MELLIE, April 2017

MELLIE 2 2018

The pilot was so successful that 45 DCU staff and students were recruited and trained for the 2017/2018 MELLIE Project, which began direct work with asylum seekers and refugees in Semester Two 2018. More than  40+ residents from Mosney’s DP registered and travelled to DCU’s Glasnevin campus once a week over the course of a twelve week semester. PhD student, Julie Daniel, took over the day-to-day running of this second, extended, pilot. The project linked in with Fighting Words for a couple of sessions on creative storytelling and one session on poetry was facilitated by Silver Thread. Fundraising for the project was carried out via a range of activities including DCU’s Refugee Week and the Singing for MELLIE concert. The 2018 project concluded with an award ceremony, a multicultural feast and a celebration of Bangra, Irish, Iraqi, Kurdish and Syrian dancing.

 Hope Mosney Book Club

Born out of research conducted by Dr Veronica Crosbie (School of Applied Languages and Intercultural Studies), the Hope Mosney Book Club meets in Mosney Accommodation Centre regularly and shares insights into a set book for collective reading. The Book Club is supported by Hodges & Figgis DCU, DCU Staff and Students and House of Akina.

DCU Refugee Week 

Dublin City University hosted its first Refugee Week (29th Jan - 2nd Feb 2018) to raise awareness of the issues and challenges facing people who are currently living in Direct Provision centres in Ireland.

A range of cultural, sport and language activities took place as part of DCU’s status as a “University of Sanctuary”. One of the key highlights was the #€21.60 campaign, with a number of students, including the Students’ Union President Niall Behan, living on €21.60 per week and documenting their experiences on national and social media. The move was part of an effort to highlight the difficulties faced by asylum seekers and refugees who live on a weekly state welfare allowance of €21.60.

There was also a five-a-side “University of Sanctuary DCU Soccer Tournament” between DCU Soccer Club and Syrian refugees from Mosney Direct Provision Centre and a major music concert ‘Singing for Mellie’ in the Grand Social on Liffey Street.

Speaking at the launch of “Refugee Week” President of DCU, Professor Brian MacCraith, said:

“The launch of “Refugee Week” is a reflection of our ongoing commitment to promoting social inclusion and equity of access for people from an asylum and refugee backgrounds as part of our “University of Sanctuary” suite of initiatives.

“Refugee Week” brings all elements of the DCU community together to build new links with our refugee and immigrant communities, especially those in Direct Provision.

I am very pleased that it translates our institutional values into meaningful actions.”

University of Sanctuary Lecture 

Dublin City University hosted its inaugural ‘University of Sanctuary’ Lecture as part of a colloquium, Asylum Narratives, on Friday 29th September, in the Cregan Library, DCU St Patrick’s Campus.

The focus of the day was to bring together academics, students, NGOs, volunteers and members of the public to explore issues relating to the lives of asylum seekers through a diversity of narrative lens, including storytelling, film, radio, drama, photography and poetry.

The colloquium provided an excellent opportunity to launch the inaugural DCU University of Sanctuary annual keynote lecture, which was delivered by Prof Alison Phipps, OBE, UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts, University of Glasgow.

Her talk, entitled Broken World, Broken Word: Resilience in the Arts of Languaging Border Distress, was introduced by Prof Brian MacCraith, President of DCU.

Prof Phipps’ narrative was based on a devised dance and theatre performance, developed as part of the UK Arts and Humanities Research Project: Researching Multilingually at the Borders of Languages, the Body, Law and the State, which presents the epic story of exile, loss of language, life and land.

The Asylum Narratives colloquium was co-facilitated by Dr Veronica Crosbie and Dr Agnès Maillot, SALIS, DCU and also featured poetry reading, a panel comprised of speakers representing different art forms and a performance of Éire: Land of a Hundred Thousand Welcomes, devised by Laura Doak and her students in Mount Temple Comprehensive School.

It was supported financially by the President's Office, the Office of the Vice-President of External Affairs and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, DCU.

The 2018 Sanctuary keynote lecture will be announced shortly.

 Research projects

PhD Level Research

Second Language Acquisition Through Collaborative Storytelling: Promoting

Multiliteracies and Integration of Asylum Seekers and Refugees into Irish Society.

This research project aims to examine language acquisition in a non-formal context, through collaborative storytelling, in order to promote multiliteracies and integration of asylum seekers and refugees into Irish society. It will draw on the MELLIE project (Migrant English Language, Literacy and Intercultural Education), a DCU University of Sanctuary initiative which pairs Irish volunteer tutors from the DCU community, after appropriate training, with asylum seekers and refugees who currently reside in Mosney Direct Provision Centre.

Julie Daniel, recipient of the School of Applied Languages and Intercultural Studies scholarship

 Undergraduate Research

Education Vista

Second Year students from the Education Entrepreneurship Module Project in the

DCU Education & Training Programme, began to develop an educational orientation programme in English language & culture, healthcare, IT and Business, ‘Education Vista’ for the re-education and integration of refugees in societies different to their own, focusing particularly on adults. The programme seeks to provide a sustainable platform for incoming participants to build new lives in their new environment. 

Declan O Neill, Liam Quinn and John Bell

 Well on the Way

A team of students studying all areas of business in Dublin City University, through Enactus DCU developed ‘Well on the Way’, bottled spring still water which funds the construction of borehole concrete wells alongside the training of local people in Mambasa in DR Congo through the partner charity, Trócaire. As part of the development of the social enterprise, two Operations Interns living in Direct Provision were contracted through the Irish Refugee Council.

Matthew Hewston (Marketing, Innovation and Technology (MiNT)), Jack Kane (Global Business Canada) and Christopher Sheeran (Global Business USA)

 House of Akina

Born out of response to the migrant crisis in 2013 and winner of the All Ireland Universities social enterprise competition (Enactus). Joshua Doyle and Lye Ogunsanya founded the #Houseofakina while studying in Dublin City University. #Houseofakina Social Enterprise creates Handmade + Limited Edition accessories. Profits are used for workshops and programs to support marginalised Migrant Women in Ireland. Using creativity to show best practice of integrating new communities while challenging the status quo. #Houseofakina products promote inclusion through their design, employment through their creation and profits help to support integrating new communities; via programs and capacity building workshops.

  Theatre-Making at the Gate Theatre

Fighting Words partnered with the Gate Theatre and DCU University of Sanctuary to run a series of theatre-making workshops for refugees and asylum seekers. Fighting Words helps students of all ages to develop their writing skills and to explore their love of writing.The workshops took place in the Studio at the Gate Theatre throughout the month of July. Working with Fighting Words volunteers, participants wrote songs, created characters and put short scenes together through improvisation and writing short scripts. The time at the Gate included a tour of the building, encouraging the idea of site as inspiration, and a trip to see The Snapper. Click HERE ror a glimpse into how participants enjoyed the day, 

Workshop participant, Fátima Contreiras, writes about her experience at the workshops HERE