Graduates 2017: Andrea Ruiz de Erenchun

“The idea of my product stemmed from my growing concern with the children enduring and living the current global refugee crisis.” 

Hi Andrea can you tell us about the inspiration behind your work?

“Statistics show that 65 million individuals have been internally or externally displaced due to persecution, conflict, generalized violence or human rights violations in 2016. The UNHCR states that there has been an 110% increase in those seeking refuge here in Europe increase since 2014. Demographic data also shows that 53% of these individuals are children.

Schools are a prime point of contact between refugee and migrant communities and the host cultures. However, intergroup relations do not guarantee intergroup friendships. Additionally the difficult socio-political atmosphere of Western countries towards this demographic can result in very difficult circumstances for these children who have come from possibly traumatizing past experiences and need inclusion and trust.

I began my research to gain an understanding of the conditions encountered by these children. I spoke to teachers with first hand experience as well as Youth Program leaders at the Refugee Council.”

“What I found that is that the main issue facing these children is the inability to speak English. Their inability to communicate results in them being stigmatized as antisocial and misbehaved by their peers despite their high aspirations to learn. The lack of teachers, funding and resources results in these individuals being sat in the back of the classroom, with limited tasks and frequently no interaction with other children”

Can you tell us about your project and how it provides a solution?

“My game Ubuntu (meaning humanity) aids the communication of emotions between children, without necessarily having to rely on a teacher while at the same time encouraging language through play.

The aim of the game is for children to communicate their emotions about different circumstances of their lives that are presented on the cards throughout the game. The result of a game is an encrypted “canvas” that holds their emotional state in a permeable, physical form.”

“The game uses Makaton, the most universal version of sign language, along with body language and art as a communication point for the users.

The main rule throughout the game is “Do not speak”, equalizing any possible advantages or disadvantages the children might have due to their theoretical knowledge or confidence in verbal communication. The use of signing enables learners to be “more conscious of language and to process language at a deeper level. It “reduces the pressure because the student has an alternative to speech”, and raises the children’s self-esteem and confidence.”

What do you hope to achieve?

“The aim of the game is for children to communicate their emotions about different circumstances that are presented on the cards throughout the game. The result of a game is an encrypted “canvas” that holds their emotional state in a permeable, physical form. This allows peers and teachers an insight into how children feel. Ubuntu aims to start conversations, establish and define a safe, open, non-judgmental, non-confrontational environment to encourage participation and trust. “

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Find out more about our Product Design courses:

BSc(Hons) Product Design with Professional Experience

BSc(Hons) Product Design Technology with Professional Experience

BSc(Hons) Sports Product Design with Professional Experience

 

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