AT TAYLOR'S: Professor Simon Williams (SimonJohn.Williams@taylors.edu.my)
PROJECT PARTNER: Dignity for Children Foundation
Almost Home is a project conceived and coordinated by Professor Simon Williams in the Centre for Languages. The original concept was to get his international and Malaysian students thinking and writing in English. With the cooperation of Dr. Logendra Poopalan of School of Education, Simon approached the Dignity for Children Foundation for permission to interview the stateless children who attend this school while they await processing for refugee and immigration status. These children, fleeing war-torn areas of Asia and Africa, all have stories of their past experiences – stories that Simon wanted his students to capture.
Armed with notepads and computers, Simon’s students listened to the stories of these refugee children and wrote them down. Prof. Williams explains, "There were a number of objectives for this project. They included everything from learning about people who were forced to leave their country, to listening to the refugees themselves and faithfully recording their stories, and finally helping to make these stories into a book. I wanted my students to be part of this genuine learning process and along the way to learn a number of new skills." Once back at Taylor’s Simon's students began to transcribe the interviews and upload the video and audio files to a wiki website to share with the designers, writers and volunteers.
To help the students adapt the transcribed stories, Mr Williams crowd-sourced writers from Taylor’s University, as well as the local community to take the raw story and give it a structured narrative form. It was at this point that Hafiz Zamri of The Design School was brought into the project. Prof. Zamri assigned his students the task of rendering these narratives in pictorial form, attempting to give visual form and life to the written words.
The whole project was then sent off to the printers to be packaged and bound into allow for sale and distribution. Simon’s book and Hafiz’ art work was on display during Orientation Week in March, and proceeds through the sale of the book went to fund similar projects with other disadvantage people groups in the future. Visitors who wish to see this project in more detail may see a fuller picture at the wiki site http://chasingthewind.wikispaces.com/