Over the past twelve months LIVED’s activities have been more limited than in previous years, as its members and trustees have primarily been focusing on thinking through future priorities – both for LIVED as an organisation, and for themselves as young professionals, many of whom will be moving away from Scotland in the months and years ahead. The result of this period of deliberation was a decision to bring LIVED’s operations and management structure closer into alignment with the University of Edinburgh Sociology department. Current trustees voted at the 5th of November AGM to bring on six new trustees who are members of the University of Edinburgh Sociology department. These new trustees will act as the advisory board for future LIVED projects, they will act as the principle recruiters of new members and they will also oversee and manage LIVED’s fundraising activities. Arek Dakessian, Katherine Baxter and David Anderson will stay on as founding-trustees and remain involved in LIVED’s operations, albeit less directly, and Liliana Riga, also a founding trustee, will be overseeing LIVED’s transition to the Sociology department.
While we are all very excited about this transition for LIVED, it’s also important to look back and take stock of our most recent activities and achievements. Over the last year LIVED has been working to conclude a two year, multi-faceted research project in Beirut, in which it partnered with international NGOs and the University of Edinburgh to conduct research and creative workshops with displaced youth in Beirut in order to gain deeper understandings of their relationships in displacement and how they navigate belonging amidst refugeedom. This project began in Winter 2016, and in the last twelve months has primarily consisted of trustees traveling to Beirut to conduct further research and creative workshops with displaced youth, whilst also working towards the final version of a co-authored manuscript detailing the findings of the research. The book will be submitted to Routledge for publishing at the end of April 2019.
Other activities have included the maintenance of online accounts, reporting our activities and financial accounts to OSCR, and email correspondence with current members and those seeking to get involved with LIVED in some capacity. With the support of the Sociology department, specifically the MSc programme Sociology and Global Change, LIVED will be providing research placements and guidance to several MSc students conducting their dissertation research on issues related to refugees and displacement. We have also held further screenings of our documentary Learning to Swim in academic seminars and in classroom settings, here in Scotland and internationally. And two of LIVED’s trustees, David Anderson and Katherine Baxter, are working collaboratively to write and illustrate a children’s book aiming to introduce some of the important issues around refugees and displacement to young people in a creative and accessible way. Finally, we have started scoping out the possibility of making the University of Edinburgh a sanctuary space for refugees and migrants, though we are still in the early stages of discerning the feasibility of this and what steps we would need to take to make this idea a reality.
While LIVED’s transition to Edinburgh Sociology is underway, we are working to revamp our website and our presence online and around the University, as well as to generate ideas for future projects in dialogue with new members and trustees, all with the general aim of creating awareness, improving the experiences and supporting the education of displaced youth around the world. We look forward to this next phase of LIVED and the contributions it can potentially make with the support of its new trustees and advisory board.
-Katherine Baxter, founding trustee