For the past three years, our organisation has been offering mother-tongue classes for Uyghur children in Paris, an activity that has been so successful that we opened an additional class this year focusing on learning about Uyghur culture. The primary beneficiaries of this school are children and young people of the diaspora. Thanks to the work of four teachers and a motivated team of helpers, we are currently offering weekly classes in Uyghur language and culture to 20 or so children of between 3 and 8 years old.
For the moment, these classes take place in two classrooms lent to the Institute by the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Cultures (Inalco). In order to accompany these children in the long run, we would like to welcome them in a place that they can make their own, as children from all over the world know how to do: by making noise, singing, dancing, sticking their drawings on the walls and having a well-deserved snack after a studious afternoon.
It is very important for these diaspora children, who have been cut off from their families and their parents’ home regions since 2017, to maintain contact with Uyghur language and culture, in addition to that offered by their parents. We want them to grow up proud of their Uyghur heritage, and to feel fully French and Uyghur. We want to give them the self-confidence that is essential for success in life, and this confidence cannot be built without valuing their Uyghur identity.
Through these difficult times, it is important for us to be present in order to support children and parents in the difficulties encountered in their integration into French society, and in particular the problems that they may encounter at school. Finally, it is vital for the children to be with each other. They have a life experience that is very different from the majority of their peers in French schools, which French teachers are not always aware of, and which hinders their development and for which they do not necessarily receive the help they need. It is therefore important that they have this Uyghur school, where they are with adults who are familiar with their situation and with whom they share a common trauma, as well as with children who also experience the ongoing genocide in an indirect way, above all through the suffering of their parents.
We invite you to watch the photos and videos of the children at the Uyghur school below and on our social media pages.