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Amazing things can happen from honest conversations

UL PhD student leading awareness campaign founds multimedia platform to ‘dissect’ the social issues facing Ireland’s multicultural generation

A PhD student at University of Limerick who is trying to raise awareness of multiculturalism in Ireland says we need to have ‘honest conversations’ about the realities faced by those from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Mamobo Ogoro, whose Twitter profile proudly declares that she is ‘on a personal mission to unify the world’, founded a multimedia platform to help spark a national conversation about multiculturalism in Irish society.

“To be honest, I think the time to have a national conversation about multiculturalism in Ireland was yesterday, but it is good that we are having it now,” says Mamobo, who was born in Nigeria and moved to Ireland when she was four, growing up in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.

“With roughly 18% of the Irish population coming from culturally diverse backgrounds, it is important that we truly understand and have honest conversations about the realities faced by those in culturally diverse communities.”

Mamobo is UL’s first Sanctuary PhD fellow. A graduate of both the BA Joint Honours (Psychology & Criminal Justice) and the MA in Psychology in UL, she is now also pursuing her Doctoral Studies in Psychology and Applied Linguistics at UL under Dr Mairead Moriarty and Dr Anca Minescu.

Her research focuses on the social identities and social representation of multicultural people in Ireland, particularly
second-generation migrants.

“While there is plenty of Irish research on the initial stage of migration, there is a huge gap in research when it comes to
the experiences on generations after who have adopted more multicultural social identities. Given my own experience as a
child of migrants, I saw this as another driving force for my research,” says Mamobo.

She says, based on her research, that the children of migrants who came to Ireland in the early 2000s – who are now young
adults – are “faced with continuous othering by the wider society and conflict between the two or more cultures they
have grown up with”.

Mamobo explains.

Therefore, I think a national conversation which leads to better education, policies and so on is essential to truly reflect
the multicultural reality that we live in in Ireland.

For that reason, she founded Gorm TV – now Gorm Media.

“With the rise of social consciousness in Ireland in 2020, I became frustrated with the level of black and white conversations that were happening within the general public, particularly with race and racism,” she says.

“As a researcher it is second nature for us to think critically and highlight nuance in certain phenomena, but unfortunately for the average Joe that may not be the case. So, I thought it was time to channel my critical thinking skills as a researcher and combine them with my creativity as an artist. And so Gorm TV, now Gorm Media was born. We started as a web show that dissects the social issues of Ireland’s multicultural
generation, but with the support of Social Impact Ireland, we are developing into a social enterprise.

“Our core mission is to spark a movement of unity and shared understanding, in which we critically engage with social issues in order to unify our diverse society. Through digital media, video content and film made with members our community, we aim to help build a society where no matter the viewpoint, common ground can be found,” adds the UL student.

Mamobo has personal experience of the “cultural stress of navigating a world where I didn’t feel I belonged, despite not knowing anywhere else”.

“The xenophobic and racist experiences in my life spurred me on a path to truly understand why people are prejudiced, which led me to UL,” she explains. “But in this journey, it has really highlighted to me that it boils down to a lack of empathy and understanding.

“There is so much great work being done by community initiatives, NGOs and grassroots organisations to further the understanding multiculturalism in Ireland. However, I feel that that work often stays within the realms of those organisations and does not reach the people in the fringes of society. This can often result in prejudicial views against people of migrant backgrounds and of course racism, which is a huge issue.

“Therefore, a national conversation backed by national institutions is vital to increase the intercultural competence of the everyday person in Ireland, which can reduce culture/race-based prejudices.”

Mamobo does have a positive outlook that change can happen and conversations around these issues can have an
impact.

“I believe that most people in Ireland would like to say that everyone, regardless of individual characteristics, are deserving of human dignity and respect, but a lack of understanding has stopped us from truly adopting that idea.

With honest conversations, I believe that amazing things can happen,” she adds.
- Alan Owens