Embracing Diversity/ Social Inclusion

MMN and partners have noted in our work with migrants that any mention of integration in the Mekong and ASEAN region generally referred purely to regional economic integration and rarely to social integration. Migrants have moved to find work, form communities, and develop their social and cultural lives. However, they have often faced barriers and challenges in seeking to fully live and not only survive in the country of destination. There has been little support made available to facilitate the social integration of peoples in the region. 

MMN believes that integration should be addressed much more broadly than economic integration and should work to enable diverse peoples to live together in social cohesion and harmony. To facilitate discussions on the themes of living together, in 2013, MMN brought together various stakeholders and hosted the Mekong Symposium on Migration; Migrants from the Mekong Neighbourhood Living Together: Seeking Effective Responses to Enable Integration and Social Cohesion. Based on recommendations raised during the symposium and in an effort to promote the goals of living together, enhancing social inclusion, and embracing diversity, MMN developed educational materials promoting multiculturalism, including lesson plans for school-age children and a picture book entitled Dragon Lake. These publications were presented at a conference entitled Embracing Diversity: Seeking Multicultural Values and Mutual Understanding, held in October 2014.

Key Activities

In 2014, MMN developed a set of four lesson plans on the history of migration. Designed for 10-12-year-old children (or students who are in 4th or 5th grade of primary school), the lessons aim to create acknowledgment among them that migration is a natural process of humankind and that we live in an interconnected global world. Through fun activities, interactive classroom discussions, and informative presentations, students learn about the movement of people and the positive influences cultural diversity has upon our way of life. To learn more about our lesson plans, please click here.

Alongside the lesson plans, MMN published a picture book entitled, Dragon Lake, which teaches the importance of living together with different cultures and nationalities through the story of a diverse community of dragons living on the shores of a small lake. It follows the story of a young river dragon named Yui who is instructed by her grandmother to stop playing with her friends, the mountain dragons. The story goes on to chronicle the changing relationships between dragons in the village and how stereotypes divide a community and hurt friendships. It is full of beautiful watercolour illustrations reflecting the unique nature of the different types of dragons living there. The book is for children aged 6 to 7 years old and is available in English, Thai, Khmer, Shan, Burmese and Lao. To learn more about the book, please click here.

From 27-28 October 2014, MMN in collaboration with the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and the Foundation for Migrants from the Mekong Neighbourhood organised the Mekong Symposium on Migration: Embracing Diversity: Seeking Multicultural Values and Mutual Understanding in Bangkok, Thailand. The meeting was attended by 50 participants including researchers and representatives of civil society organisations, inter-governmental organisations, governments, educational institutions, and researchers. The symposium marked the official release of the illustrated book and educational materials. In addition, it served as a venue to further discuss issues relating to diversity, as MMN recognised that a better understanding of multiculturalism throughout society is key to the realisation of social cohesion, human security, and peace in the region. To learn more about the event, please read the proceedings of symposium.