‘I miss my street in Damascus’: Hussein’s story and C&T’s Push/Pull

This is Hussein.  He is thirteen years old and lives in District 7 in Vienna.  He has lived there for 18 months. In recent weeks he has been part of C&T's global project allowing young people to tell their own migration stories through drama and digital technology.

Three years ago all of Hussein's family lived in Damascus in Syria.  As the country's civil war took a tighter grip, his father decided to take action to save his family.  In advance  of them he fled to Austria.  There he took a job, working hard to raise the funds to bring his wife and family to him.

Eighteen months ago this hope became a reality. Hussein and his family took the harowing journey across land to Istanbul.  There their father had arranged for them to fly to Vienna, saving them from the often deadly journey by boat across the Mediterranean.

However this didn't stop the family being held in a refugee camp for several months before being reunited with his father.  He is now settled in as school in Vienna.  He has  mastered German and  has a good  grasp of English. He is popular in his class and almost always smiles.  

C&T first met Huseein last November as part of our Inclusive Spaces 2.0 project in the city.  When we asked him, his teacher and friends if they wanted to tell his story as part of our Push/Pull migration project they were not slow to say yes.  This week we returned to Vienna using our Prospero technology to help them research and dramatize Hussein's story. C&T's Push/Pullwebsite gave the class the drama tools and constraints they needed to structure the journey: motivations, departure points, stops, signposts, arrival destinations all feature.  Just as Hussein's family became dependent on their smartphone to guide their travels, so the class used their phones as essential tools for capturing and sharing their drama. 

The week forms part of C&T's wider Push/Pull project, allowing young people across the world tell their stories of migration. Other participants include children in New York, Nairobi, London and Worcestershire. 

It was an exhilarating week.  In evaluation comments like "when will you come again?" and "next time we are going to make our drama on location, right?"  were only tarnished by Hussein's reflections on his journey: " It has been an amazing week - but I still miss my street in Damascus."

Paul Sutton