MU host open-air refugee exhibition  

  • “If you have a little bit of hope everything’s possible”
  • Photo-voice exhibition spotlights education access barriers faced by refugees 

Press release, 19 October 2021

From Friday 22nd October, Maynooth University will host an open-air exhibition on its North Campus. Bringing together the voices and experiences of people seeking refuge in Ireland the We are here, HEAR exhibit, through a collection of photographs and stories, documents some of the barriers faced by refugees and people in the protection process aspiring to further their education 

Dr. Sarah Meaney Sartori, We are here, HEAR Project Lead said: This exhibition is about raising awareness about the presence of refugees in Ireland by bringing their voices into public spaces and forums for discussion and engagement. In partnership with the Irish Refugee Council, the College Connect team carried out research with over 100 people who have fled their country of origin due to fear of persecution. Many of whom have experienced trauma, torture, violence, exploitation, grief, and loss. 

This collection of images and stories is a direct result of this research, and as the exhibition launches on the North Campus of Maynooth University, we invite people to step into the shoes of people seeking international protection for a moment and explore some of the considerable challenges they face.” 

Zoryana Pshyk, Community Educator and Trainer and Collaborator on the We are here, HEAR exhibition said: “Being a refugee, navigating the asylum process, living in Direct Provision – they all impact on a person’s ability to fully integrate and participate in Irish society. People suddenly find that their identity is stripped back to that of a legal status. As they try to rebuild their lives people face many barriers and education access is a major one.  

“We all know and understand the benefits education brings, first to the individual and then to wider society. And for this community of people, it is no different – education is key to integration, offering a foundation on which to build a secure and meaningful future for both them and their families. Furthermore, the variety of worldviews and diversity of experiences that refugee and international protection applicants bring both enriches and enhances Irish society.”

 The We are here, HEAR project is funded by the Public Service Innovation Fund and was created by Dr. Sarah Meaney-Sartori with the We are here, HEAR Project Team. It was then developed by the Maynooth University Access Programme and College Connect in collaboration with Dublin City University, the Irish Refugee Council and Dublin Castle. 

The exhibition can also be accessed online at www.weareherehear.ie where people are invited to leave feedback or reflections. 

The exhibition will be on display in Maynooth University’s North Campus 22nd – 29th October



  • MU map to see where the exhibition will be displayed
  • We are here HEAR is one of 20 projects funded by the Public Service Innovation Fund 2021  
  • College Connect is a Higher Education Authority funded programme for access to higher education. The project spans four higher education colleges (Athlone IT, DCU, Dundalk IT and Maynooth University) who are working together with the community to support underrepresented students into and through higher education.  
  • The open-air touring exhibition will visit College Connect partners DCU, Dundalk IT and TUS – Athlone Campus over the coming months, culminating with a special event when the We are here, HEAR exhibition reaches Dublin Castle in February 2022. 
  • Dr. Sarah Sartori is a researcher and educator based in Maynooth University. She is the research manager for College Connect, whose aim is to increase the diversity of the university population, through finding out the support needs of groups underrepresented in Ireland at 3rd level e.g., refugees, Travellers and Roma, people with convictions etc. Sarah is trained in arts-based methodologies, which means taking research outside the academy and into the public space for engagement and to inspire social change. 
  • Zoryana Pshyk is an experienced facilitator with Partners Training for Transformation as well as an associate lecturer with the Department of Adult and Community Education, MU. As an ex-asylum seeker and a current Chair for Kildare Integration Network, a member of the Newbridge Asylum Seekers Support Group (NASSG), Zoryana supports integration in County Kildare. She is a member of the Maynooth University of Sanctuary Committee. Zoryana is passionate about the education of marginalised communities, specifically women, and an advocate for social justice, equality, diversity, and inclusion.