Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

All Headlines Lie!

May 11, 2010 · No Comments

As a Law and Policy major I have devoted a serious chunk of my college education on the study of government, law, and policy management. Because of this I have seen how a piece of legislation can be traced from the Committees in Congress to the President signing a bill into law, a bill that could later drive a case through the ranks of the judicial system where it can be called into question in front of the Supreme Court, but all of that basically can be boiled down to checks and balances. I also see how issues become a sensation to the media and problems blown way out of proportion, or the focus of the issue is shifted. That was really driven home today when I was in volunteer training at the New Routes Organization. They are part of the greater program called Interface Learning. The program is devoted to long-term integration of refugees in the Norwich area.

During the training the leader of the organization shared some newspaper headlines that read, “Refugees swarm the UK like ants,” and “City Flooded with Immigrants,” as well as several others. The second quote was taken from a Norwich paper immediately after Norwich was opened as an immigration dispersal point in 2003. The first headline was written in 1900. I’m not saying that newspapers are wrong because in the end they are just a company out to make a profit, but often when it comes to immigration we see that they use dehumanizing language to make a terrified refugee out to protect herself and her family into a faceless horde. The majority of immigrants come from wealthy families looking for better opportunities and they do not need to “steal” benefits from hardworking citizens. Two immigrants that I met today were highly trained computer specialists from Iraq looking to contribute to society, and another was trained at an American institute in Kenya. She also probably speaks better English than some of my flatmates.  No mumbling!

The UK is home to roughly 0.3% of the world’s refugees since many will flee to no farther than the safest place, an example is that refugees in Africa will often run to other places within the continent because they do not have the money to make it farther than the closest “safe” place. It saddens me that many British, like Americans, cannot see any farther than a newspaper headline to look at some actual statistics. As of last year the biggest refugee population in the UK was from Afghanistan, and the largest population of illegal immigrants? They were from Australia. Overall, I found the five hours of training incredibly interesting and I can’t wait to meet the other volunteers at the monthly meeting!

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