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A Day of Cultural Exchange and Unity At Chester Beatty Library

Schools of Sanctuary Across the Border Away Day: A Day of Cultural Exchange and Unity

Fostering Understanding and Connection Between Schools from Belfast and the South

Dublin, May 16, 2023 – On a sunny day at the renowned Chester Beatty Library, a remarkable event unfolded, bringing together students from ten schools as part of the School of Sanctuary Across the Border project. This collaborative initiative, led by Schools of Sanctuary Ireland and the Northern Ireland Education Authority, aimed to promote cultural exchange, understanding, and friendship among students from Belfast and the South. The event, generously funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, provided a platform for students to share their cultures, explore diverse themes through self-guided trails, and engage with Sanctuary Ambassadors. The day proved to be a resounding success, fostering connections, breaking down barriers, and championing compassion and unity.

Students Sharing about their culture

The highlight of the day was the Sharing our Cultures activity, where students from each school proudly presented objects, pictures, and stories that represented their cultural heritage. Divided into different groups, students passionately shared their traditions, histories, and personal experiences, allowing their peers to gain a deeper understanding of each other’s backgrounds. The atmosphere was filled with curiosity, respect, and genuine interest, as friendships formed and perspectives broadened.

Sanctuary Ambassadors  talking about different countries and their cultures e.g. Ukraine, Nigeria, Sudan and Syria

The Ambassador Café, another key element of the event, provided students with a unique opportunity to interact with Sanctuary Ambassadors from Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, and Nigeria. The students were divided into primary and post-primary groups, ensuring age-appropriate discussions. The Sanctuary Ambassadors, sharing their own compelling stories and experiences, transported the students on a journey around the world. Students were captivated by tales of resilience, cultural richness, and the power of unity in overcoming adversity. These engaging conversations left an indelible mark on the young minds, fostering empathy and inspiring them to embrace diversity.

Juliia The Sanctuary Ambassador sharing about Ukraine

Sanctuary Ambassadors exchanging information about their countries

The self-guided trails offered a chance for students to explore the captivating exhibits of the Chester Beatty Library. Divided into groups based on the themes of How Things Are Made, Fantasy and Imagination, Fashion, Sacred, and Journeys, students embarked on a journey of discovery, guided by their inquisitive minds. From witnessing the intricate craftsmanship involved in ancient artifacts to unravelling the symbolism of sacred texts, the student’s thirst for knowledge was nourished. The self-guided trails not only enriched their understanding of diverse cultures but also ignited their own creativity and imagination.

The attendance and support of esteemed guests further underscored the significance of the School of Sanctuary Across the Border event. Members of the City of Sanctuary Belfast, along with two respected officials from the Education Authority of Northern Ireland, played vital roles in facilitating the activities and fostering a nurturing environment for the students. A representative from the Department of Foreign Affairs of Ireland also graced the event, that shows the government’s commitment to cross-border initiatives that promote sanctuary, love, and compassion. The funding provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs demonstrated their dedication to creating inclusive spaces and strengthening bonds among the citizens of the Island of Ireland.

Schools of Sanctuary Ireland would like to express heartfelt gratitude to the Department of Foreign Affairs for their invaluable support in making this happen. Their commitment to fostering cross-border initiatives that promote unity and compassion is commendable. Additionally, the collaboration with the Chester Beatty Library was instrumental in providing a welcoming space and facilitating the logistics of the event. Their dedication to education, culture, and inclusivity truly made the day unforgettable.

This momentous day at the Chester Beatty Library served as a testament to the transformative power of education and cultural exchange. Students, teachers, officials, and representatives witnessed the breaking down of barriers and the creation of lasting connections. We will continue to strengthen these connections and collaborate with all of our stakeholders to make schools more connected than ever before.


Photo Library: See different sessions and activities

Students sharing about various objects and talking about their cultures

Sharing by Sanctuary Ambassadors and Students

Our Colleagues from the Northern Ireland Education Authority and Chester Beatty

Sanctuary Ambassadors meeting students and sharing about their culture

Sharing by Sanctuary Ambassadors

Emma from Chester Beatty giving a tour to students around the Chester Beatty

Discussions around Syria and its culture

Sharing my Syrian Sanctuary Ambassador

Sharing from Ukrainian and Afghanistan Sanctuary Ambassadors

Sharing by Sanctuary Ambassadors from Sudan and Somalia

Some of the students from Secondary Schools posing for a picture in Chester Beatty

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Thanks to all our generous funders including the ones listed below and the ones not