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  • Meghann Ormond

Roots Guide heads to Portugal!

Updated: Feb 22, 2019

As curator of the Roots Guide: The Dutch Stories, I'm now always on the lookout for opportunities to learn from and share with others working in areas and projects relevant to what we're trying to accomplish.



I’ve just returned from Portugal where I shared the Roots Guide project concept and methodology with scholars, students, heritage and migration experts, and cultural tourism practitioners from around the globe at the Universities of Evora and Lisbon. The project attracted significant attention and appreciation. As a result, preliminary discussions are now underway about developing Roots Guide guidebook editions in both Portugal and Luxemburg, two countries very significantly shaped by migration both today and throughout time.


I first participated in the International Congress on Cultural Mapping: Linking Heritage (Tangible and Intangible) with Cultural Tourism (https://ichculturalmapping.weebly.com/) at the University of Evora, presenting a poster about the Roots Guide project (click here for an A4 PDF version of the poster). I was inspired by conference participants’ innovative techniques for helping people -- both locals and visitors -- of all ages and backgrounds make greater, more meaningful and satisfying connections with diverse forms of arts and heritage (e.g., via creative workshops with artists and artisans, the use of augmented reality, local community mapping and co-creation initiatives, etc.). Many of these great initiatives are supported by the CREATOUR (http://creatour.pt/en/) project, which focuses on supporting sustainable tourism opportunities for small town and rural areas in Portugal. The conference offered up a lot of (delicious!) food for thought about how to make readers’ use of the Roots Guide guidebook and website as personally relevant and meaningful as possible.


Surrounded by some of the brilliant geographers studying migration issues in Portugal and Luxemburg at the University of Lisbon's Geography and Spatial Planning Institute (IGOT). :)

On Monday, after participating in the excellent African Lisbon Tour (https://africanlisbontour.com/) over the weekend, I led a 4-hour interactive workshop about the Roots Guide at the University of Lisbon’s Geography and Land-Use Planning Institute (Instituto Geográfico e Ordenamento do Território, or IGOT (http://www.igot.ulisboa.pt/?lang=en)) that brought together more than 20 migration scholars and students from Portugal, Brazil, Croatia, the US, Germany and Luxemburg as well as a representative of Portugal’s High Commissioner for Migration (Alto Comissariado para as Migrações, or ACM ((https://www.acm.gov.pt/inicio)). There, I led participants through the Roots Guide project’s unique concept and methodology in great detail, describing the theory underlying the project’s deployment and combination of four key elements: storytelling, travel-based experiential learning, reflective activities fostering self-expression, and fostering connection beyond the guidebook via an interactive website and community engagement.


Interactive workshop activities were designed around each of these four elements, with participants getting to put concepts and practices surrounding global citizenship education, experiential learning and Bhabha’s notion of ‘third space’ into practice. Throughout the workshop, they were invited to compare and contrast the different socio-economic, political and migration contexts of the Netherlands and Portugal in order to, by the end of the workshop, be able to decide whether a Portugal edition of the Roots Guide would be useful and, if so, for whom and what its core message should be. By the end of the session, they were overwhelmingly enthusiastic, seeing great potential for a Portugal edition of the Roots Guide not only for adults but also for school-aged young people living throughout the country. As someone who lived in Portugal for many years and went on to acquire Portuguese citizenship, I’m thrilled that we might be able to realise this great project in a country very close to my heart.



Stay tuned for more news!

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