These kids are Irish but were told they’re not Irish enough.

What exactly does it mean to be an Irish student but just not Irish enough?

That sounds pretty weird, right? But it's exactly how this group of young migrants in Ireland feel when trying to get citizenship and go to college there.

They came up with a cool animation to tell their stories and break it all down.

"We're the children of the first generation of migrants who've made Ireland home. All born outside of the EU (European Union), we came here to join our parents. We've grown up here and put down roots. Ireland is our home."


Cool … tell me more.

Most young migrants have graduated high school. Some have even started college, but they want the right to finish, get an advanced degree, and contribute to Ireland's future.

Well, that sounds great. What's the holdup?

"Did you know that if you're coming to Ireland from outside of the EU, to live and work, you need permission in the form of a stamp and your passport? You don't exist in the immigration system until you register at 16 and get your first stamp. Time spent in Ireland before this didn't count towards citizenship. We have no control over the stamps we get."

Hmmm ... that doesn't sound too fair.

"We're stuck in a system set up for working adults, not us, their children."

Whoa. What does that actually look like in real life?

If you don't have citizenship by the time you're in college, you don't qualify to go for free. (Ireland offers free college tuition to students born there.) "Through no fault of our own, we are never going to satisfy the nationality criteria. No matter how long we have lived in Ireland, we will face EU fees."

Are EU fees like paying full price for college without scholarships or student loans?

Yep. "EU fees are huge. Our parents have to pay double or triple what other students pay."

But what if your citizenship is approved while you're in college?

"If you become a citizen while you're in college, you can't reverse your fee status. Which means that you'll always have to pay," whether you're a citizen or not.

Ouch. How do people manage?

Here are some ways that students get by:

"I'm here 12 years. My parent's entire disposable income goes to my EU fees. I'm a drain on their resources."

"I'm here 12 years, and I made it into second year by the skin of my teeth. And I'm the reason my sister can't afford to start college."

"I can't go to college. I can't afford it. So I see no bright future."

Wow, that's too bad for them. But why should we care?

Aside from it being the right thing to do, having more educated folks anywhere increases the possibility of a brighter future. A robust economy creates more jobs and more innovation and helps shape a more productive world.

"By investing in us, you're investing in Ireland's future. … What will cost the Department of Education a little in the short term will save a fortune in the long term."

What can you do?

Take a peek at this video for more information:

You can also check out the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland website.

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The Atlantic Philanthropies

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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