By Kayla Zhu
Kayla interviews Yann Guillo, President of Sciences Po Refugee Help in Menton. Kayla is the association’s communications director. In this conversation, Yann lays out his vision for this year’s organization.
Kayla: Hi Yann, thanks for doing this!
Yann: No problem laughs.
Kayla: Could you please briefly introduce yourself?
Yann: My name is Yann Guillo, and I’m currently a 2A. I’m an econ major, and I’m the president of Sciences Po Refugee Help for this year. Oh, also, I’m from Brittany!
Kayla: What role did you play in Refugee Help last year?
Yann: Last year, I was on the board as well. I was part of the event pole, and I was one of the people that organized a conference with Najat Vallaud-Belkacem in cooperation with two other associations on campus, Coexister and Sciences Polémiques.
Kayla: What was your personal motivation for getting involved in refugee issues?
Yann: I’ve been involved in activities surrounding refugee issues for a long time. When I was younger, I didn’t fully grasp the nuances of the refugee crisis. I would talk about it with friends, but none of us fully comprehended the complexity of the topic. Our ignorance was essentially a motivator for me to become more informed on the issue. So when I was seventeen, I travelled for one month from Lampedusa to Paris in order to build a photographic report. During this trip, I interviewed migrants, doctors, coastguards, associations, members of the military, and even people who opposed the refugee flows. After the trip, I made a presentation on all this information in the region that I’m
from. I guess that’s how it all started. My involvement on the topic pushed me to join the board last year and volunteer at the camp.
Kayla: Are you able to share any information on the status of the refugee camp in Ventimiglia? I heard there were talks earlier this year regarding the possibility of closing the camp. Could you share an update for anyone that’s not involved with our association?
Yann: So the camp in Ventimiglia is currently a transit camp, meaning that refugees are only meant to be there for no more than 1-2 weeks– something like that. But in reality, it’s not really the case. There are people that have been there for years. From what I’ve heard from volunteers, this camp is going to stay open for this year, possibly longer. The reason for this is because it’s a tactic point. Migrants from France and Germany are coming back to Italy, because they’ve been refused refugee status in those countries. As a result, they’re now coming back to Italy and something needs to be there to welcome them and make sure that they are not in the streets.
Kayla: Can you what your vision for this year’s Refugee Help is,
and can you explain how this organization is different than the
one from last year?
Yann: This year I wanted to organize more activities with the whole board and with Margherita, the Vice President of our organization. We wanted to organize four poles this year. We have the communications pole, because want to increase the number of campus articles being written on refugee issues this year. Also, we have the conference pole that will propose different conferences on the migrant crisis throughout the year. Then we have our camp role which is responsible for linking students from Sciences Po to the camp by organizing football and rugby matches. They will also propose other activities such as environmental initiatives within the camp. Finally, we have our sensibilization pole. These members mostly will be responsible for organizing different collection drives on campus to gather goods that can be taken to the camp as well as for organizing meetings with residents of Menton to discuss the topic of refugees.
Kayla: Given all the activities that Refugee Help already facilitates
at the camp in Ventimiglia, why do you think it’s important that our organization builds a stronger presence on campus?
Yann: Because I think there are a lot of students looking for opportunities to get involved on this topic. This year there were so many strong candidates that applied to volunteer at the camp, but unfortunately, we were not able to accept everyone. Nevertheless, it’s great to see so many students motivated to get involved and we want to make sure that we find other ways
to accommodate this interest.
Kayla: Finally, could you quickly clarify what opportunities are available for those students looking to get involved with our organization but are not already volunteers at the camp?
Yann: There are many new opportunities to get involved this year, given that we’ve created new poles that will focus on developing our campus presence. With the organization of additional conferences this year, we hope that students will attend these events and be a part of the dialogue. Also, the collection drives presents additional opportunities for students to organize alongside our board.
Kayla: Perfect, thanks so much for doing this Yann!