What is a UNESCO RILA Ambassador?

Ambassadors are encouraged and supported to start their own projects related to the integration of refugees and asylum seekers and their needs as New Scots.

The Scheme aims to assist our Ambassadors to develop skills in project management, communication, networking, people management, language, creativity and innovation. We never set out duties for our Ambassadors as it is a volunteer scheme and all work is self-directed. 

Our Ambassadors are those with asylum seeker or refugee background with a demonstrable interest in languages and the arts as a means of furthering integration. No remuneration is provided to the Ambassadors, but we seek to facilitate their projects by covering travel and other costs and providing space for activities as required. The Ambassadors are fully supported in their activities by the Secretariat and Arts hub throughout their tenure.

Please see below for information about our current Ambassadors.

Should you have any questions about the scheme, please do not hesitate to contact the UNESCO Secretariat.

Aimee Corinne Ottroh

‌In September 2018, I completed the postgraduate degree in Adult Education at the University of Glasgow. Before that I obtained my BA honours in Community Development, also at the university of Glasgow.

As part of my role as a UNESCO Chair Ambassador, I organised a series of creative writing workshops, open to all, with the aim of self-discovery. Participants were encourages to share their stories and to learn from each other’s experiences. I believe that it is important to provide people with a safe space where they can open up, share stories and learn from each other without judgement. I am hoping to repeat the series in Spring 2019. If you or anybody you know would be interested in joining this group, please get in touch. I am also available for private workshops and can travel within the Glasgow area.

Other activities I have undertaken in my role are:

- Creative Writing session at the Scotland Welcomes Refugees Gathering in Glasgow (April 2018)
- Creative writing workshop at Solas Festival, Perth (June 2018) 
- Chaired sessions at the UNESCO Chair Spring School, Glasgow (May 2018) 
- Presentation at the roundtable event on longer term refugee integration, organised by the Scottish Government (June 2018)
- Presented the UNESCO Chair work at the International Meeting in Cormatin, France, organised by the Welcome Hut and funded by the Robert Bosch Foundation and l’Institut Franco-Allemand (August 2018) 
- Radio interview for Grand Matin Radio, France (August 2018)

I am passionate about people learning from their own experiences to challenge barriers to personal and social transformation. I dream of a fairer Scotland where people from less advantaged communities have their experiences valued, where people are supported to transform their lives and their communities! I believe creative writing is an excellent tool to unlock our own emotions and thoughts around our experiences.

Project I will be doing over the next few months are

- Participate in Glasgow Common Cause seminar: BME funding workshop (November 2018)
- Present the UNESCO Chair at the International Conference, organised by the Welcome Hut (November 2018)
- Organise self-discovery writing workshops at the University of Glasgow (Spring 2019)

You can contact me via the UNESCO Secretariat

Ambassador - Corinne Ottroh

Elsa Gebrehiwet

Elsa Gebrehiwet is an English-Tigrinya medical translator and UNESCO RILA Ambassador. In her role as ambassador she runs a community parent group, to talk about the needs of the young Eritreans in Glasgow. She also organises regular gatherings for those young people, to support their development and to provide them with positive local role models.

On Mondays she also runs a group for Eritrean women. Meetings are held in the Tesco Community Space in Springburn, St Rollox Business Park, Cobden Rd, Glasgow G21 1YL, every Monday from 1pm-3pm. All Eritrean women are welcome to join. If you want more information before joining the group, please email unesco-rila@glasgow.ac.uk

Hanging Life Together

Elsa GebrehiwetI am currently supporting two groups. One of these groups is comprised of women from ethnic minorities, who come from asylum-seeking / refugee background and who are living within the area of Royston and Springburn. I aim to support young mums in difficult circumstances such as abuse and domestic violence. The second group is comprised of ambitious young people who aim to reach out to vulnerable individuals.

These programmes include in-depth conversations of daily activities, the topic of cultural barriers, customs and health & wellbeing. The women’s group in particular will have more in-depth discussions in relation to certain topics, such as domestic violence and FGM. The objectives and agenda of the group meetings will be discussed beforehand and agreed by both groups. This is beneficial for the group members in developing their language skills and improving the participants’ confidence when engaging in different conversations. These gatherings enable them to have a space where they can socialise and integrate within society.

A wide range of issues will be discussed through workshops, visual photography and other activities that suit the groups’ needs. I will include various stories, one example being the stigmatised issues faced by young single mothers and young people in the community or at school.‌‌

Elsa Gebrehiwet - HLT

Oudai Tozan

An education activist, campaigner and community developer, Oudai has completed a BSc and MSc in Human Resource Management in his home country, Syria. He moved to Glasgow to pursue a second MSc in International Business and Entrepreneurship from the University of Glasgow, for which he graduated with distinction. He has a strong passion for refugee rights, education development, and illiteracy fighting, areas which he plans to continue to support throughout the rest of his career. This enthusiasm for refugee integration through numerous avenues has connected him with Oxfam, where he’s spent the last few years campaigning all over Scotland and engaging with communities of all sizes.

He is one of the founders and a driving force behind the Syrian Scottish Network for development and integration, a network of 30 volunteers which recently became a registered non-profit organisation for which he remains treasurer. His most recent project, the International Syrian Association for Education Development, is a collaboration spanning 9 countries and 100 Syrian academics, researchers, education activists, professionals and students dedicated to supporting students and educational institutions in Syria. The goal is to bring together a diverse array of skillsets and resources in the interest of supporting Syrian students all over the world to continue education and develop their academic knowledge. Oudai aptly stated ‘The war in Syria had a disastrous impact on quality of education and left millions of Syrians kids out of school or at risk of dropping out. We all, Syrian educated people, have a moral obligation to step in and mitigate this education disaster.’

Being a UNESCO RILA Ambassador has helped him make connections to further his social entrepreneurial goals. His efforts include, but are hardly limited to:

  • Weekly language blog posts on the Syrian Network Facebook page
  • Creating and sharing short videos about how to prepare for the IELTS exam
  • Organising weekly English classes for Syrian refugees with native English speakers
  • Building partnerships with a range of organizations to support integration efforts

Further information and links to these resources will be posted here in due course.

Oudai TozanOudai Tozan