Last month we were delighted to announce that the winner of our 2013 Multilingualism in the Community Award was a project for a Multilingual Art Studio organised by RCS Haven based in Glasgow, UK. Here, Nina Ivashinenko, director of RCS Haven, tells us a bit more about the project and how the prize money will help them to develop their scheme further.
Located in Glasgow, RCS Haven has become a beacon of hope for multiculturalism and multilingualism in a city filled with cultural isolation. Initially set up in 2004 to help people from ethnic minorities integrate into Scottish society, the centre has gone from strength to strength in recent years thanks to the tireless work of our volunteers and our members. It is our wish to preserve Russian language and culture for our children and for posterity while simultaneously providing a platform from which émigré Russians living in Scotland can better integrate themselves into Scottish and UK culture. We do this primarily by providing both Russian and English language lessons for adults and by educating our younger members in Russian language and traditions. The centre is now a hub for cultural exchange in Scotland. Through teaching, discussion, research, and building a community we hope to make RCS Haven an environment in which all Russian speakers can come together to exchange knowledge and help each other to integrate effectively into UK culture.
The importance of such a centre existing in Scotland cannot be underestimated. The population of émigré Russians currently living in Scotland has risen by 70% in the past six years. The estimated population of people from Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union living in the UK is thought to have increased by over 300,000 in the same period. Without the kindness and support of groups like Multilingual Matters RCS Haven would struggle to continue to provide such a wealthy cultural exchange.
As well as promoting and preserving Russian culture for everyone in Scotland, RCS Haven endeavours to provide more and more facilities for children. These facilities will include Russian and English language classes, maths and art tuition.
It is our intention to provide a cross-cultural, bilingual arts and crafts studio for children of diverse backgrounds. We encourage local children to engage in multicultural artistic traditions, while also promoting the use of language in a fun and creative way. The classes, for children aged 4 – 8, are opened every Wednesday from 5pm.
These classes provide an exciting and unique opportunity for the children to become acquainted with multilingual art and artistic techniques through different languages such as English, Russian and Polish. Russia, for example, has a rich artistic history ranging from traditional Slavonic art, to socialist realism, to matryoshka doll painting. For the children of the Russian and Polish speaking diaspora, the classes also provide an opportunity to meet and socialize with other children from the local area. It will also provide valuable practice for their English language skills and build their bilingual confidence. For the other children, the classes provide an opportunity to mix with children from the Russian diaspora and learn more about Russian culture.
This is a very exciting time for all of us here at RCS Haven and we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Multilingual Matters for their generosity and support. Spasibo bolshoe!