UNESCO RILA Spring/Summer 2020 News & Events


To lighten your mood during these uncertain times, we bring you an overview of goodness. In this newsletter you'll find inspiring individuals, tips to beat the lockdown blues, poetry, intellectual entertainment and important dates for your diary. For once we're grateful for global warming, as the sun in Glasgow is definitely keeping us afloat. Hope you are all well in your part of the world,



UNESCO RILA Spring/Summer 2020 News & Events


In this issue:

- Virtual UNESCO RILA Ride 2020
- Save the date: Alison Phipps' UNESCO Chair annual lecture
- University of Sanctuary presentation
- Virtual Spring School: The Arts of Integrating
- Poetry from Affiliate Artist Erdem Avşar
- Visiting scholar Sean Smith from Hong Kong
- MOOC "Multilingual learning for a globalised world" open again!
- New Affiliate Artist: Mbizo Chirasha
- RILA's tips on getting through the lockdown
- Sharing Stories
- Toilet twinning to improve hygiene

Piece of tie-dye cloth

UNESCO RILA Spring/Summer 2020 news & events

QR code to Virtual UNESCO RILA Ride 2020

Virtual UNESCO RILA Ride 2020

"Two months into lockdown, with still no clear end date in sight, the UNESCO RILA team, in collaboration with Sustrans and Bike for Good, have created an online version of their popular annual Refugee Cycle, called the Virtual UNESCO RILA Ride 2020.

The game can be played entirely online, but if you have a bicycle and would like to use it, you are more than welcome to follow the route and progress through the game at the various checkpoints during your ride. Maps are provided throughout the game, to keep you on track.

Participation is free, the only thing you need is a smartphone and an internet connection. If you're reading this on your phone, you can click this link to be taken to the game directly. If you're reading this on a computer, you can scan the QR code in the image above with an app called ActionBound. The app can be downloaded for both Android and iOS through this link

If you've ever been on the actual Refugee Cycle, you'll recognise a lot of the elements. However, because of the online format, the team has to make a few changes. Doing an online version of a live event may sound like a weak substitute, but the online environment also provided the opportunity to add in some nice touches that would have been impossible during the live event. Need we say more? Head over to ActionBound and take a look for yourself!

Take me to the app!


Alison Phipps during her UNESCO Chair annual lecture 2019

Save the date!

It is almost time for Professor Alison Phipps' UNESCO Chair annual lecture: Thursday 18 June 2020. This year the lecture will be an online presentation as part of the programme of events that marks World Refugee Day. Attendance is free of charge. Details of the event, presentation time, registration links etc. will all be posted on our website, our Twitter and the Scottish Refugee Council Twitter feed.


Poster UEA University of Sanctuary presentation by Prof Alison Phipps and team

Alison Phipps delivers University of Sanctuary lecture

University of East Anglia invited Alison to give their University of Sanctuary lecture. Unable to do this in person the whole team and also the wonderful Sahar from Gaza were enrolled to give a multimedia, poetic, musical lecture to the many participants. It was the first time the team had used the webinar format so much was learned in the dress and tech rehearsals but the experience, whilst very different from live performance, had its own communicative possibilities. Click the button below to watch the recorded lecture.

I would like to see the recording


Virtual UNESCO RILA Spring School banner

Virtual Spring School: The Arts of Integrating 2020

We all need to adapt to the new situation and for us it has meant moving our annual Spring School: The Arts of Integrating to the end of October. However, at the start of this month, we held a reduced virtual Spring School. This was a closed event for presenters only, that was not open to the public. The full programme can be found on our website.

At the virtual event, 35 contributors presented over three days, filling us all with inspiration for the next few months, until we can meet them all in the flesh in October to share their stories with a wider audience. Naturally you're all more than welcome to come and join us. We will need to wait and see what happend with the pandemic, but keep an eye on our newsfeed, to be the first to know when registration goes live.

Take me to the full programme


Poetry by Affiliate Artist Erdem Avşar

Our Affiliate Artist Erdem Avşar, Turkish playwright, poet, translator and lecturer, kindly agreed to share some of his poetry with you. Click the button below to find out more about Erdem and his work.

Find out more about Erdem Avşar


Image of Sean P. Smith

Visiting scholar Sean Smith in lockdown

From 9 - 26 March, doctoral candidate Sean P. Smith from the University of Hong Kong visited the RILA team in Glasgow, but got stuck in a Glasgow tenement right away. We asked him how he experienced his stay:

"My visit to RILA was oddly timed: at the end of the university strike, and days before the pandemic hit the UK in earnest. So while we only ever met via Zoom, the team warmly welcomed me, inviting many deeply textured conversations and facilitating a critical appraisal of my work. I’m completing a doctorate in English that investigates the colonial legacies of contemporary tourism, with a case study conducted in Myanmar, yet through insight among the RILA team I have begun to develop connections between the industry of voluntary travel and the far more frequent travel of refugees and migrants."

If you would like to get in touch with Sean to find out more about his research, you can do so by email: [email protected]

Click here to see Sean's profile on Google Scholar


MOOC on FutureLearn banner

Free MOOC temporarily reopened

To make sure you all have the opportunity to use this bizarre period to learn some new skills, the University of Glasgow has reopened a range of old Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), one of which is the MOOC created by the Researching Multilingually team: Multilingual learning for a globalised world.

This is a 3-week course which requires a commitment of around 4 hours per week. The course will be open until the end of July. Topics covered:

Week 1: Should we all just speak one language?

  • Introduction to the course
  • Language ‘riches’: the languages we speak, the languages we learn
  • Monolingualism and multilingualism in today’s world

Week 2: What do we do about the danger in a single language?

  • Language and power in a context of globalisation
  • Verbal Hygiene: can or should we ‘clean up’ language?
  • Being a language teacher and learner

Week 3: Everyone is a language learner, and learning languages is a creative art

  • Language learning as creative art, and the role of creative arts in language learning
  • The freedom to achieve potential: the ‘capabilities approach’
Join the MOOC on FutureLearn


Mbizo Chirasha and the cover of his 2019 poetry collection

New Affiliate Artist: Mbizo Chirasha

We would like to use this opportunity to present our latest member of the Affiliate Artist family to you: Mbizo Chirasha from Zimbabwe.

Mbizo is a poet and writer of short fiction, with an active online presence in various countries. His main interests are human rights, freedom of speech and the history of slavery, all of which return frequently in his writings.

His latest 2019 collection of experimental poetry A LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT was released by Mwanaka Media and Publishing and is both in print, on Amazon and is featured at African Books Collective. Click the button below to get taken to his impressive CV.

Meet Mbizo Chirasha


Image and poetry from BWBW colouring book

RILA's tips on getting through the lockdown

In crisis situations, when the future is uncertain, a lot of people feel irritable, sad, tired, withdrawn, less productive and lacking a sense of purpose. How is the RILA team dealing with this? Here are our best tips to get through the pandemic in one piece.

Unsurprisingly for those who know us, we've turned to language. The Guardian posted an excellent article with a list of old words to calm and inspire hope.

We also like to turn to the experts and in this case, somebody with experience of crisis situations who has put that experience into a bite-sized lesson of hope, is Rebecca Solnit. Read her article here

For those on furlough with lots of empty time on their hands, this could be a period to learn new skills and find out more about the world we live in. Here's a video about a fascinating language that you've probably never heard of.

Next up is the arts. With most artists finding themselves out of a job, a lot of donations based concerts and other creative responses have started to pop up online. Plenty of different music for all tastes. The one we would like to highlight is the Folk on Foot Festival, with two front room editions of over 7 hours each.

For those who want to be creative themselves, you can download the top banner image for colouring in. It is a page from our Broken World Broken Word colouring book, available to buy from the RILA team for £2 as soon as lockdown lifts. Send an email to [email protected] to pre-order your copy.

Yoga and meditation also feature highly on the list of coping strategies. An excellent (and free) yoga channel on YouTube is Yoga with Adriene. Enjoy!


Sharing Stories cover

Sharing Stories with The Trust and Magic Torch Comics

Our friends at Inverclyde Community Development Trust and Magic Torch Comics have created this fantastic video as part of their Sharing Stories project supported by National Lottery Heritage Fund. The story above, Lion and Rabbit, is but one of the stories they've collected. For more information on the project and more stories, click on the button below.

An Arabic version of this story is also available here.

I want more stories


Imaged of our ToiletTwinning certificate

UNESCO RILA toilet twinned

Alison Phipps had the brilliant idea to twin our toilet on the 7th floor of our office building! We know hygiene saves lives and this fact has become even more relevant in light of the current pandemic. So our loo now has a friend/un ami in Côte d'Ivoire/Ivory Coast! Got inspired? Click the button below to find out all about toilet twinning.

Tell me more about Toilet Twinning


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