Kristine Kovacevic, Interpretation and Visitor Experience Manager | Gestionnaire l’interprétation et de l’expérience du visiteur Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 | Musée canadien de l’immigration du Quai 21
“So, one of the things that we talk about all the time is that our job as interpreters is to forge an emotional connection between the context of the visitor and the material, the meanings inherent in the object. So we look at what does this object mean for this human, and how am I going to connect these two things…..So those people who hid that prosciutto [in coats or skirt hem linings], it is not just the prosciutto, it is that these people were trying to preserve the last little bit of their culture that they had with them, and that this is the last thing that they were holding on to. And so we talk to people about what that must feel like. ‘Have you ever had that one thing that you were holding on to that connected you to a home or a place and got taken away?'” Kristine Kovacevic
Kristine highlights Refuge Canada, an exhibit created by Pier 21 to represent what it means to become a refugee. The idea that nobody wants to be a refugee, but anyone can become one depending on their circumstances is brought to life through re-enactment, stories, and videos.
The end of the exhibit allowed for attendees to share their experiences of how refugees have contributed to their own communities. According to Thibaut and Curwood (2018), “technologies not only have expanded the opportunities for meaning making but have also shaped the relationship between the writer and the text, allowing the author to also become a designer and producer” (p. 49). These visitors/adult learners did not simply move through the exhibit passively, but rather they were able to develop their own understanding through ongoing interaction with the exhibit, for example, using their own life experiences, through an interactive computer program, they found out whether or not they would have been a refugee in another time and place. These adult learners at the end of Refuge Canada were asked to comment in writing on their own personal understanding and experience with refugees’ contributions to Canada and the world. Listen below to Kristine illuminate the Refuge Canada experience.
This is the link to the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. This website is offers much to discover for educators in both English and French: https://pier21.ca/
Here is a link to the Refuge Canada Travelling Exhibit, available in English and French, which includes lesson plans for teachers: https://pier21.ca/host-refuge-canada-our-newest-travelling-exhibit