Migrant Youtubers

 

They have created new ways to express themselves, have fun, relate to others, and even new ways of living. Some of them publish videos on a monthly or weekly basis, but the most active ones, publish videos almost every day. The list of issues they talk about is huge, from fashion to videogames, they achieve to capture the attention of their hundreds to even thousands and millions of followers. I am talking about Youtubers, people who have innovated the forms of information and entertainment, especially for young people.

Many Youtubers have become very popular and received recognition in their cities, countries or at a global level. This has led to many communication and media experts criticizing the concept of fame over the last few years. Most Youtubers used to be ordinary people, who one day just decided to record themselves and post videos about their daily lives or their personal opinions on the internet. Using this channel, they gained the same or even greater influence on their perspective audiences as traditional famous artists.

The relationship between Youtubers and their subscribers is quite remarkable! According to a study by Google, 4 in 10 Millennial subscribers say their favorite Youtuber understands them better than their friends. 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers say they relate to YouTube creators more than traditional celebrities. This close relationship gives YouTube content creators the opportunity to influence the lives of young people. The same study indicates that 70% of Millennials believe that YouTube creators influence and shape culture. 

The contributions of Youtubers to migration:

The Youtuber phenomenon has one particularly interesting characteristic: most of them are migrants! For many of these Youtubers, talking about their experience in their host country has become a popular topic for their videos. They talk about cultural differences and similarities, new traditions they learn about, their general experiences as migrants.

They confirm that migrants are not only strong, resilient, compassionate and dedicated, but also creative. Hundreds of Youtubers tell their stories on how they arrived in their host country through creative videos. These clips show their best side, the best of their culture and the ties they create with the people who welcomed them with open arms. Their videos indirectly inspire the fight against xenophobia and discrimination.

Alejandro Velasco is one example of those migrant YouTube influencers. He is from Mexico and he went to Chile to pursue his Master’s Degree in 2012. Through his “Un Wey Weón” project he has created a series of short videos on his experience as a Mexican living in Chile. These clips have gone viral and they have been broadly relayed through the main Chilean media channels.

His YouTube channel has more than 15.000 followers and his Facebook account has over 80.000 followers. Alejandro highlights all the linguistic and cultural differences between Mexico and Chile. His videos have helped to bring Chilean people closer to the Mexican culture and vice versa.  

#IamaMigrant Challenge

Just like Alejandro, there are plenty of other migrant Youtubers who are playing a key role in combatting xenophobia and discrimination against migrants. The impact they have on young people is what makes their videos profoundly valuable in building more inclusive societies. Fully aware of this opportunity, the IOM Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean launched a campaign for migrant Youtubers. 

The #IamaMigrant campaign is intending to combat negative discourse against migrants through the creativity of migrant YouTube influencers, who are digital ambassadors of their countries of origin. To participate in the campaign, Youtubers have to create a video in which they tell us about their migration experience based on three objects. This is expected to increase sensitization and empathy for other migrants living in the perspective of host countries.

Erika Sinning, a Venezuelan citizen currently living in Canada, was one of the first Youtubers to join the campaign and she told her experience as a migrant based on a pair of shoes and her cellphone. In her video, Erika tells us:

“Migration is like a second chance at life, because you migrate to improve your life, but also to make progress and evolve as a person”

Alejandro Velasco, “Un Wey Weón”, shared his experience by using a Mexican hat, a picture of his family and all the bags of dried hibiscus flower he was able to bring from Mexico. So far, his I am Migrant campaign video has already reached more than 23.000 views on YouTube.

We hope that many other YouTube influencers will join this campaign and continue to foster a positive message about migrants. For further information on the #IamaMigrant Challenge click here.

 

 

 

  About the author:

Jean Pierre Mora Casasola  is a communicator in IOM Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean. He has served as a consultant in different social organizations and in the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). He holds a Degree in Advertising from the University “Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnología” (ULACIT), and he is currently getting a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations at the same university.  Twitter: @jeanpierremora 

 

 


Art and creativity as elements of psychosocial support and mental health for migrants

Art and creativity as elements of psychosocial support and mental health for migrants
Categoria: Migration and Health
Autor: Karen Carpio

Assistance programs for people in crisis situations have changed their focus from one based on the care and prevention of psychological symptoms, to one that involves the three spheres of the psychosocial approach model. This model contemplates the relations between mind and body, social and economic relations, and culture. In the case of migrants, psychosocial well-being has been closely linked to the concepts of identity and community, which include a person's sense of belonging, internalized social roles, adaptation to their cultural context, differences between social support models, among others. In that sense, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) experts suggest activities in which affected communities cease to be merely recipients of services created by actors outside the community, and instead become active agents of their own solutions, with the support of external actors.

The Manual on Community-Based Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergencies and Displacement, launched by IOM in mid-2019, introduces the principles of the MHPSS and describes specific activities to implement them on different axes, such as rituals and celebrations, sports and games, non-formal and informal education, among others. 

There are several benefits that have been identified in carrying out artistic interventions as part of the psychosocial approach model for emergency and displacement support. One of the main benefits is that these types of activities have the capacity to transform suffering, negative experiences and collective wounds into artistic and cultural productions that give new meaning to what has been lived. These activities can also strengthen social relationships at different levels (for example, family and community) and strengthen the resilience of individuals. The use of art (songs, videos, sculptures, paintings, poems) also allows metaphorical naming of themes that would otherwise be unmentionable, allowing new narratives to be introduced into larger segments of society.

Activities that can help healing

There are many creative and art-based activities that can be carried out to address the complex psychosocial situations that groups of migrants and displaced people go through. However, these activities must be suitable for the specific population group (taking into account age, gender, migratory history, identified psychosocial needs), the context and the resources available to them. With regard to staff, the use of professionals from various fields is promoted, including professionals in plastic arts, music and theater. In order to ensure the quality of the interventions, at the time of designing the activities, the place of the activity in the intervention pyramid (IASC) must be clear and incorporate the three spheres of the psychosocial model.

The Manual offers several examples of activities that can be implemented. Here are some possible creative and art-based activities for psychosocial support:

  • Theatre of the opressed: It is characterized by the active participation of the audience in the work or performance. An unresolved situation that oppresses an individual is presented. The scene is repeated a second time with the intervention of an experienced moderator to guide the interactions. During the repetition, members of the audience can stop the play, take the place of the oppressed character, and suggest another possible outcome of how the problem could be solved. In the case of migrant returnees, the theater of the oppressed can be an opportunity to sensitize communities about the problems they face, show solidarity, and create bonds.
  • Circus Arts: This type of activity has been used mainly for children and families. Circus arts can strengthen resilience, personal development and self-confidence. The circus arts allow a playful approach, through the use of clowns for example, to various psychosocial issues.
  • Collective narratives: In some cultures, speaking in the first person may not be as well received as speaking collectively. This dynamic allows the voices of community leaders who have a good reputation in a community to be raised.
  • Visual arts: Visual arts are a recurring resource for working with children and adolescents, but it is also useful with adults. These include everything from drawing, painting and sculpture, to photography and video, which makes it a valuable tool to express realities and ideas without using words. In Nigeria, for example, a combination of self-portraits and storytelling allowed for the strengthening of self-esteem and transformation capacity of affected migrant communities.
  • Storytelling: Stories allow people to connect with a group through identification with a given situation. It is a valuable emotional resource, since not only those who listen to the story learn, but it allows the storyteller to identify their value with their peers, who will be able to recognize common experiences.
  • Archives of Memory: In many parts of the world, archives of memory are created as a way to gain closure on past experiences and accept changes. It also serves as a way to honor victims and not forget the experiences that affected a group, community or even country. They make use of varied documentation, photographs, stories, personal objects and oral culture, among other forms of expression.

Activities to provide psychosocial assistance should always be designed for the specific context in which they will be carried out and for the needs of the people affected. It is necessary to have professionals who know how to direct the activities and recognize cultural differences, identifying if, for example, in a culture men will not participate in recreational activities, but in other types of artistic dynamics, or if women will have difficulties to feel comfortable in activities that are mostly bodily, so that the activities can be properly designed.

To look into the recommendations of IOM to make use of creative and artistic activities as a means to address the mental health and psychosocial well-being of migrants and displaced persons, as well as learn about other areas of intervention in SMAPS, we invite you to download this manual.