“I feel that the voices, stories and perspectives of people from refugee backgrounds are excluded from the debate around ‘refugees’,” says 21-year-old Thomas Feng about his association with Road to Refuge, a community organisation standing up for the human rights of people seeking asylum.
“I am deeply empathetic and compassionate and believe that the world needs this more than ever when we talk about people seeking safety.”
From June 20-25, Road to Refuge with sponsorship from Maurice Blackburn, is debuting Stories About Hope at No Vacancy Project Space at Federation Square, to shine an important light on the refugee voices erased from public debate.
Thomas is the Communications Manager for the exhibition and member of the Youth Advisory Group (YAG) at the Centre for Multicultural Youth.
“The stories in the exhibition are presented through video and photography,” he explains.
“I hope that the audience sees their stories and sees them not as refugees but as people; people with hopes, ambitions, and dignity, wanting the best for their lives just like you and I.”
The exhibition has been created from the perspective of a person with lived experience to celebrate the strength, resilience and dignity of refugees.
Thomas is no stranger to working on art exhibitions. He has previously served on the Marketing and Communications team for the National Youth Week multimedia art show organised by the YAG called Journey To Self in February this year.
“I joined the YAG specifically to play a role in ensuring that multicultural voices and experiences of young people play a significant, active role in making the world a more inclusive place,” he says.
“Through my own experiences, I have learned that we do not have to be confined to or conform to the labels and stereotypes thrust upon us by others.”
“By being actively involved in the YAG, I want to give everybody the opportunity to be themselves and to be accepted and respected for that.”
For Thomas, Stories About Hope is about having important conversations.
“Their stories are more common than people think and an ideal outcome for me would be for people coming to the exhibition to have a conversation with their family and friends on the way we treat refugees – particularly family and friends whom we would usually avoid speaking to on these issues.”
Tickets for opening night are now available and the free exhibition will be complemented by a comprehensive program throughout the week, including a number of advocacy and educational workshops.
Find out more: storiesabouthope.eventbrite.com
The Youth Advisory Group (YAG) is a diverse group of up to 15 young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds from all over Melbourne. The group of enthusiastic and motivated members not only advise us, but also represent other young people. CMY's YAG ensures our work continually reflects and addresses young people’s issues to help us further support and empower them.