Gathering The Voices event at GCU

05 August 2013

Gathering The Voices event at GCU

Eilidh and Fraser Sim with the book written by their grandmother, Dorrith Sim, a Kindertransport refugee. It inspired students at the event.

Glasgow Caledonian University welcomed Kindertransport refugees who fled Nazi terror and grew up in Scotland, their families, German Consul Heinrich Schnettger and Stewart Maxwell MSP to the Saltire Centre yesterday to meet students and staff and raise the profile of the GCU-supported Gathering the Voices project.

The event took place during the 48-hour development jam, which was held to create digital educational resources inspired by the experiences of Jewish refugees who fled persecution as children in the 1930s and 1940s to start new lives in Scotland. Their stories are being collected by Gathering the Voices as part of a unique oral testimonies project.

The digital applications will now be considered for use as part of a Gathering The Voices educational packs which will be used by a number of Glasgow schools as part of the Curriculum for Excellence.

Working under the banner of ‘From Darkness to Light; From Persecution to Freedom’, students worked round the clock to develop five digital educational resources based on the  journeys of the refugees in the lead up to the Second World War. They presented their ideas to Gathering the Voices  Association members and supporters as the weekend-long jam neared its conclusion.

Welcoming the guests to the Saltire yesterday, Vice Chancellor and Principal Professor Pamela Gillies CBE said: “The University is proud to be associated with this extraordinary project. Stories of friendship and survival  are being brought to a new generation and they will encourage people to think about the experiences and conditions that asylum seekers and refugees face today.”


Gathering the Voices supporters Mrs Lore Lucas and former Professor John Subak-Sharpe met many of the students who took part in the 48-hour development session at GCU.

The Games Jam-style event was organised by Angela Shapiro, Academic Development Tutor in the School of Engineering and Built Environment, and Brian McDonald, programme leader for Games Software Development and lecturer in Games Programming.

Mrs Shapiro said: “It was a wonderful event and a privilege to see so many of the people we have interviewed for Gathering the Voices coming together. The applications developed by the students are of an extremely high quality and guests were extremely impressed by the standard. The refugees, most of whom are in their eighties, loved engaging with the students and they were very impressed with students’ knowledge and sensitive approach to the subject matter.

“Some of the digital resources produced by the students will now be considered for materials we are producing in collaboration with three Glasgow secondary schools and one Glasgow primary school.”

Consul Heinrich Schnettger, of the Consulate General of Germany, said: “Gathering the Voices has received recognition in Scotland, from the Scottish Parliament among others. It receives equal recognition from the German Consulate General in Edinburgh, as well as from our head office in Berlin.”

Stewart Maxwell MSP said: “I am here today because we need to recognise how important this project is and how inspirational the stories of the survivors’ journeys are. It is critical that we provide future generations with first hand testimony about what occurred in the run up, during and in the immediate aftermath of the war.

“I want to thank all those involved with Gathering the Voices, and the University for its support for the project and the staff members who have given so much of their own time.”

Supporters of Gathering the Voices also include a member of the University’s alumnicommunity, a number of local Jewish charitable trusts, the German Embassy and the main sponsor of the project, the Heritage Lottery Fund.