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Making the Present

A creative programme with CSREC’s Global Language Café and artist Paria Goodarzi in Falkirk.

The Central Scotland Regional Equality Council (CSREC) was established in 1984 to eradicate all forms of racial discrimination. Their work addresses the needs of ethnic minorities facing structural racism and inequality through partnership work, awareness-raising, and training and consultancy. This work is done with direct involvement of ethnic minorities and is addressed at the organisational level with the public, private, and third sectors. We collaborated with the Global Language Café – a group that meets weekly at CSREC’s premises in Falkirk to practise English together and to create a space where all language knowledge is valued.


The words and works on this page were made by members of the Language Café  at Central Scotland’s Rights and Equalities Council (CSREC) with artist Paria Goodarzi (April-June 2022).

As a collection, they symbolise personal and shared experiences of strength, feelings of wellbeing, and global movement. At the same time, these pieces, spontaneously made at social gatherings, are delicate and fragmentary. They are the result of being part of an emerging community.  

Members of the Language Café group Isiah, Kheder, Aymen, Susan and Jasem co-hosted a public event with Paria and project co-ordinator Mia as part of the Refugee Festival Scotland, June 2022. During the event, the group guided the public along sites of the Wall from Pleasance to Callendar Park. They shared stories connected to the artwork they had made, combining thoughts on Roman histories with present day-experiences.

The stories that the group decided to share as part of the event did not need to be connected with Roman periods of site history. Instead, the project aimed to become a site of recognition for the presence of contributors at an equally important moment in time – and,  in turn, to locate the making of history as a site for social agency,  voice and the sharing of diverse forms of knowledge and experience, in and of itself. We have shared parts of these stories on this site, alongside the artwork wherever possible, though much of this work happened in the magic of the moment.

At the time of the project, most of the people in the group had been temporarily housed in a hotel that lies directly on a site of the Antonine Wall, having fled war or persecution.

“The process of making the work contributed to a sense of togetherness, shared experience, and connections to the area.”


The ‘rediscovery’ of the Antonine Wall served as a metaphor here for the migration process. Like moving from one place to another, the Wall takes on new meanings in its remote new home in the present. As a group we have also adopted new traditions, and changed the languages we speak and the way we see the world within the rapid political and social changes that we have witnessed. The work comments on the group’s migratory reality – re-centring experiences of movement within stories of Scottish and global heritage”.Paria Goordarzi


Back in 2003 when we first saw them in Yemen my mum had one of these so I was just using it to play. It was so funny – when I got hold of a phone I felt like an important person. They’re good memories. Everything was peaceful then in Yemen. You had dreams and ambitions. Back then when we were in Yemen it was peaceful… before it was war it was a normal situation. There was just normal life surrounded by family… a little thing reminds me of the good times and puts a smile on my face.” – Aymen
Aymen speaking in Calendar Park at the Refugee Festival Scotland, 2022.


These are Eritrean Shida Shoes. They are made of plastic. Many, many people are wearing these shoes. It has a big meaning for Eritreans. It is our symbol. I wore those shoes for so long because of lack of money. I used to buy them because they were cheap. In the military we wear these shoes, even in the armed struggle we wear them. For many Eritrean people if you give these shoes it’s like giving a diamond. It is a small thing – they are cheap to buy but the meaning is significant“-  Isiah



Callendar Park, in addition to giving its incomparable beauty, revealed it’s best kept secrets to us. My senses enjoyed the smell of freshly cut grass, of the song of the birds, and the foliage of the trees with different colours of green.
 It caught my attention that there were a few birds in Callendar Loch. This is because it is breeding season and they are in nests hatching their eggs. In June we’ll see a lot of families with their chicks and we’ll witness the miracle of nature once again“-   Susan


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Rough Castle Fort, Jasem


Making wildflower seed-bombs to plant along the route of the public event

We made and threw seed-bombs of wildflowers along the route of the walk in the Refugee Festival. This was meaningful as most people who took part were housed in Falkirk temporarily, with no knowledge of when or if they would be moved again. This is the situation for many people currently in the asylum dispersal system, who have been housed in hotels since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Paria wanted to honour the group’s presence through a gesture that would last beyond our own.

Fragment of a tent in which soldiers along the Wall would have been temporarily housed almost 2000 years ago. Image courtesy of Historic Environment Scotland.

ESOL Resources:

A collection of postcards produced on the project can be used for ESOL classes and other activities. 


Walking Practice’:

Whilst walking at sites Paria gave us creative prompts influenced by mindfulness techniques – some of the group wished to pay attention to the sensations they experienced – noting these down, others collected things, drew, mapped, took photographs, made sound recordings and generally responded to places in whatever way we liked. There was no obligation to share what we made.

Making the plaster casts:

The CSREC shop in the Howgate Shopping Centre where the Language Café meet is situated near to the former site of Falkirk Fort on the Antonine Wall. During excavations of the area many clay items were found, so it’s thought to have housed a kiln. We worked with clay and casting mould to create impressions inspired by conversations on the project, or stories we wanted to tell.

Food supplied by Pakistani street-food, Glasgow!

With thanks to Eman, Andrew and the team at CSREC for the wonderful work that they do.