Posts By / jchoe

BU-Community Partnership Workshop (Refugee & Migrant Leisure Network)

Dr. Jaeyeon Choe, Dr. Varuni Wimalasiri, Dr. Nicola De Martini Ugolottiand, and Dr. Jayne Caudwell in Faculty of Management organised the Refugee and Migrant Leisure Network workshop on December 5th with community partners including Dorset Race Equality Council and Unity in Vision.

During the two-hour workshop, we discussed how to support refugee and migrant communities in Dorset including ‘vocation’ and language learning. We also discussed other mechanisms that help their re-settlement and integration such as cooking workshops, community events, music and art, all which might provide a broader scope of support such as social and emotional/psychological well-being.

We agreed that we need to listen to refugee and migrant ‘voices’ for their settlement, integration, meaning making and well-being in order to develop supportive programmes. It’s often seen that existing programmes don’t meet what refugee and migrant populations actually need. There is an urgent need to listen to their problems, challenges, so as to develop effective support programmes.

We also discussed ‘qualitative’ data that community organisations often collect including stories, lived experiences and anecdotes do not communicate well with policy makers. What will be an effective strategy to convert the ‘messy’ data (from community events, sport, music, and art) into policy making? This is a challenge for both community organisations and researchers.

Our community partners also shared that they are facing new challenges (ie funding). All councils and community organisations face difficulties in developing, managing and ‘sustaining’ support systems for refugee and migrant populations. Whilst discussing the role of a local university when supporting refugee and migrant issues, securing some funding can be one area to work on for both researchers and community groups. For example, Dr. Jaeyeon Choe recently applied for a grant with two of the community partners to support their activities as well as her own research. The proposal focuses on Syrian refugee resettlement, belonging, subjective well-being and community ‘food’ events in rural UK. We are also looking into larger/future collaborative funding opportunities together.

For BU academics, it was very fruitful to listen to and learn from community workers about refugee and migrant issues in Dorset and beyond. Besides the productive discussions, it was inspiring to see people who are passionate about supporting and working hard for refugee and migrant communities!

If you are interested in our network, please follow us:

The Refugee & Migrant Leisure Network (RMLN) December Meeting

Prof Janet Dickinson, Associate Prof Jayne Caudwell, and Dr Jaeyeon Choe (Centre for Events, Leisure, Society and Culture) have established a network called ‘The Refugee & Migrant Leisure Network (RMLN)’. They had the most recent meeting with partners on the 8th of December at Bournemouth University.

During the meeting, stakeholders from Dorset Race Equality Council, Unity in Vision, International Care Network, Red Cross and STAR joined academics to discuss current projects and issues. BU academics updated the network on current research related to multicultural lunches in Dorset, work with forced migrants in Bristol and future plans. Stakeholders suggested future research agendas, which focused on best practice for looking after unaccompanied asylum seeker children and supporting people into appropriate work aligned to existing skills.

The network has been providing a great opportunity to (re)build partnerships and update each other of current events, issues and programmes around refugee and migrant leisure spaces, migration, integration, wellbeing and mental health whilst working towards creating social integration and sense of belonging and community. The next meeting will be in Spring 2018.

More information about this group and related research project:

Follow us on Facebook: ‘Refugee and Migrant Leisure Network (RMLN)’

Belonging in a post-Brexit-vote Britain (British Sociological Association) conference

BU academic presented at ‘Belonging in a post-Brexit-vote Britain: researching race, ethnicity and migration in a changing landscape’ conference at the University of Sheffield (co-organised by the British Sociological Association and the Migration Research Group)

I presented an on-going project, Migrant and Refugee Leisure Spaces and Community Well-being at ‘Belonging in a post-Brexit-vote Britain: researching race, ethnicity and migration in a changing landscape’ conference at the University of Sheffield in May. A report of the conference can be found here:

[Dr. Jaeyeon Choe, Senior Academic presenting at Sheffield]

The ‘Migrant and Refugee Leisure Spaces and Community Well-being’ presentation got much interest from the audience, who were primarily sociologists. Discussions flowed around “how” leisure spaces and practices can help migrants integrate into communities and enhance their well-being, and how migrants define social inclusion, integration and well-being differently from scholarly (often middle class and ‘white’) definitions. Other discussions surrounded how some cultures have segregated and have ‘invisible’ leisure spaces whilst others prefer generic space to gather.

Prof. Louise Ryan in Sociology at University of Sheffield emphasised that we need to develop comparative lenses and more holistic and international perspectives from different scales. We need to talk across fields and disciplines to move forward to understand migrants’ lives, well-being and integration.
“The impact of the referendum, means that researchers on intra-EU migration, those working on refugee studies and on ‘race’ and ethnic studies, need to come together to share insights and collaborate to develop new analytical frameworks to understanding the evolving implications of Brexit.”

The tourism and leisure field has much to offer and contribute in the exploration of migrant lives and their integration in the UK. Existing research suggests that leisure spaces provide migrants with opportunities for developing, expressing and negotiating their personal, social and cultural preferences safely whilst gaining recognition and a sense of belonging. This is especially important as they may confront issues relating to belongingness, societal membership, social status, self-perception and cultural confusion. Leisure can be instrumental to (re)establishing connections and networks with locals as well as other migrants and refugees, and provide spaces for problem solving. Leisure opportunities and spaces support the development of cultural capital to allow migrants to feel safe enough to contemplate building a productive life. Thus, leisure spaces can play an important role in integration. The role of leisure in integration also reflects the receiving community feeling unthreatened by migration.

I also participated in an Early Career Researcher Mentoring session with Prof. Louise Ryan during the conference. I found the session very useful as I received advice on research, publishing and networking in the migration studies field and beyond. Prof. Ryan also shared helpful insights and advice on career development strategies in the UK, especially for migrant young female researchers with similar profiles to me. This was an unusual programme during an academic conference that can be widely utilised by other conference and workshop organizers. I found the session extremely helpful in aiding my understanding of the academic culture in the UK and how to adapt to it as a young researcher from a migrant background.

Another interesting feature of the conference was a photographer as a keynote speaker. Jeremy Abrahams (theatre & portrait photographer) shared powerful visual work of the impact of Brexit entitled, ‘Remain/Leave’.

A keynote by Dr. Jon Fox at University of Bristol emphasised ‘Everyday Racism’ and how it has increased after the EU Referendum. He discussed pathological integration: East Europeans, racism & becoming British.

Finally, fellow conference delegates took photos of my presentation and posted them with useful comments/questions on the conference twitter page. After I mentioned a Bourenmouth University migrant well-being project twitter account, 10 immediately followed us, and had led to interesting and useful connections with fellow researchers with similar interests. 🙂 It was not only productive in getting feedback and comments on our on-going research project, but also great to meet migrant studies researchers to network.

For more information about our migrant and refugee leisure spaces and community
well-being project, please follow the Facebook Group: ‘Migrant Leisure Spaces’, Twitter: @migrantspaces and the project web page:

Festival of Learning 2017: ‘Migrant and Refugee Leisure and Well-being’ & ‘Shahre Farang: Memories made real’

Festival of Learning: Migrant and refugee leisure and wellbeing

On Saturday 8th July, as part of the Festival of Learning 2017, we invite you to join a socially-engaged art event entitled: ‘Shahre Farang: Memories made real’ organised by our community partner b-side (local art organisation). An interactive discussion session accompanies this art event, this discussion will explore ‘Migrant and refugee leisure and wellbeing’.

Both events encourage audience members to think about the places, spaces and people they can no longer visit.

Migrant and refugee leisure and wellbeing:

Existing academic research indicates that leisure activities and spaces can be positive experiences for groups and individuals who feel marginalised in society. Research findings show that migrant and refugee groups value a range of leisure, including sport, arts, culture and heritage. To date, we know very little about leisure behaviours of migrant and refugee groups living in Dorset. We will discuss these aspects more fully in this one-hour interactive session. Individuals, community groups and charities, and schools and colleges are invited to attend and contribute to this BU research project on leisure and migrant and refugee wellbeing.

Date: Saturday 8 July
Time: 11am – 12pm
Location: Talbot Campus

For more information:

Shahre Farang: Memories made real:

“If you could never return home, what would you do and where would you go if you were granted just one minute to be there?”

Iranian photographer Farhad Berahman presents the memories of 20 Iranian asylum seekers who are unable to return home. Look into the beautiful Shahre Farang (an Iranian peepbox used by wandering storytellers) and see their memories made real. Meet the artist and join in with discussion and activities led by Counterpoint Arts.

Date: Saturday 8 July
Time: 11am – 4pm
Location: Talbot Campus

For more information:

We look forward to welcoming you and interacting with you at our events!