Saturday, 18 August 2007

The power of advertising

I was at a workshop yesterday, organised by Amnesty International as part of Edinburgh's Book Festival. The workshop was designed to help children understand more about asylum seekers and refugees by asking them to relate to the experience of leaving your home country and trying to get to a safe place.

It was a fascinating event, and a real eye-opener, to listen to the perceptions children have of asylum seekers, refugees and people from other countries generally. And it was interesting to see how their opinions shifted during the course of the role play activities, which asked them to consider things like how it would feel to have to leave your home and friends, to be separated from family members, to live in a new country where you don't know anyone, and to learn a whole new way of life under a cloud of uncertainty because you don't know if you will be allowed to stay.

Something that struck me is how much children actually absorb. They could certainly understand most of the scenarios put to them, and had a basic understanding of world affairs at the moment - particularly the dialogue over terrorism, religion and the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Although this was interesting, the point of my blog - I must confess - is rather flippant, but I was just so taken aback at the time...

As part of one of the tasks, the children were asked to consider how asylum seekers in the UK will be able to pay their bills and buy the things they need, when they have no money and the government doesn't allow them to work. One 'bright spark' piped up: 'They should call Debt Buster Loans!'

There's always one...

It also says something about the debt-ridden society we now live in, but that's a whole other posting...

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