Early Career Fellow, IAS Warwick and Community Participation Officer, CRMC
How can drama benefit refugee and asylum-seeking communities?
Reem Doukmak has a PhD in Applied Linguistics and English Language Teaching from University of Warwick. Her thesis is titled ‘Introducing Drama to the English Classroom: Engagement in Research Interventions with Syrian Refugees’ where she worked with Syrian refugees in Turkey on using drama to support their teaching and learning practices.
Reem is a Syrian refugee who came to study at Warwick University via the Council for At Risk Academics. During her study, she set up STAR Conversation Club, which teaches refugees and asylum seekers English and life skills, helping them to integrate into the community. She was awarded the Outstanding Student Contribution Award to recognise her contribution to student and community life. Reem also works in Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre in the Integration Project where she works to provide opportunities to newly arrived refugees to unlock their potentials and to establish connections with the local community through arts and social activities.
The three videos illustrate data from the current research. By capturing refugees and local community’s voices through interviews, questionnaires, self-produced textual and visual materials and performance, the research gives insights into what it is like to carry out research under Covid-19 and to bring to light questions of integration at times of uncertainties for refugee and host communities.
I felt I was opening up closed doors of creativity, culture and social life for myself, the artist and the participants. We were all in this together, each was doing their part in co-creating a new Coventry coming out of the pandemic. We just started connecting the dots. – Reem Doukmak
As a way to enhance her research impact, Reem is currently fundraising to support the Destitution Fund at Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre. Reem believes that in order to support refugees access art and culture life, it important to meet their basic needs including food and housing. To help Reem meet her fundraising target, please donate here via gofundme.com.
Theatre maker, co-founder and Producer of Shoot Festival
The following film is in three parts: Chapter 1: The Home I Happened to be Born Into, Chapter 2: Our Constantly Changing World, and Chapter 3: A Loving Mother’s Hug.
Our process was a little bit different to the other Coventry Creates projects, for us the activity was feeding the research, rather than the other way round. Reem’s research focuses on how drama can benefit refugee and asylum-seeking communities as they reintegrate in the UK, so this was an opportunity for us both to explore working with members of these communities in a theatrical capacity.
I work as a theatre maker, creating and touring solo performances, so the chance to create work with, by and for a group of people other than myself was an exciting prospect for me. From the very start Reem and I wanted to ensure that the participants felt comfortable sharing their stories and that this was an opportunity to have their voices heard. My job here was to ensure that the final outcome came from them, rather than from me.
In a short process over just four online sessions, through a series of activities we generated a number of texts, collected a load of images and materials and shared stories. I then tried to piece together these texts into something which told a story that all four of the participants could share. Every sentence of the final outcome had been written by the person who says it. Each participant brought a unique writing style, from the humorous to the beautifully poetic. I have tried to capture all of this in the final outcome.
I think the story we have created together is one of hope, positivity and (what perhaps surprised me most) an overwhelming gratitude to the UK.
I feel in the UK we rarely hear this perspective, often brainwashed by the perceived negative aspects of immigration. The gratitude, hope and positivity that the group presented was, for me, a refreshing reminder of just how lucky I was to have been born where I was born, and how different my life might have been had I been born somewhere else.