A Mile in My Shoes - Empathy Museum

Art in London: Empathy Museum’s A Mile in My Shoes installation

22 October 2021
Posted in: Events News

A shoe shop with a difference...

City Lit ESOL students invite you to walk in their shoes at the Empathy Museum’s A Mile in My Shoes installation at the Southbank Centre from 23 –⁠ 31 October.  Visit this pop up shoe shop, put on a pair of our students’ shoes, walk and listen to their stories. 

The culmination of a year-long collaboration funded by the GLA between City Lit’s Centre for Universal Skills, 15 ESOL learners, the Empathy Museum and professional storyteller, Ariane Hadjilias, the installation is part of the London Literature Festival. Adults from around the world, living in London, have worked with their tutor on their English language skills, focusing on telling a story about a life event. They learned how to perform this story with Ariane and finally worked with Boldface production company to digitally record their narratives. All their stories can be heard on Spotify. (from Leticia to Elena).

You can visit the Empathy Museum shoe shop in the Royal Festival Hall at the Southbank Centre, try on their shoes for size and engage with stories about fleeing war in Yemen, finding a new home in a strange country, and being visited by the supernatural. The stories centre on the theme of lost and found, how an initial disruption led to new findings and discoveries and sense of self.

The transformative effects of telling a story and listening to each other made this course a deeply personal one for the learners - in the process overcoming pandemic isolation, making new relationships and learning how to “connect words to mouth to feelings and so create a story that allows others to feel something - imagining literally being in someone else’s shoes.”

“The course made me think of my own reactions to experiences that happened in my life or even reactions that I would normally have with other people.  I discovered a new confidence that woke me up from a situation I was living.  Talking about my situation, helped me reflect in a different way.  I was able to analyse it, to process it and start the metabolising process.
I would say that this has been a therapeutic course.

“I loved meeting people from different backgrounds and from variety of countries. It helped me to be less judgmental and to see people as people. We had different upbringings, ages, professions and at the same time we shared a lot in common- immigrants in UK, struggles to be understood, losses in the past, fear how we will be perceived. Openness and vulnerability helped to empathise with others.” ESOL participant.

Join City Lit's Centre for Universal Skills in celebrating these stories, put yourself in someone's shoes and let their language speak to you.

Read more about the project here >

Little AMAL

At the same time, we will be welcoming Little AMAL, who herself has walked many miles across Europe from the Syrian border raising awareness of the plight of young migrants. We will be walking in her shoes and the thousands of others who flee their home countries in search of empathy and new stories. 

Essential Skills at City Lit 

Do you want to develop your English, ESOL, Maths or Digital Skills? Do you need to improve these skills to make progress at work, express yourself fully and participate in modern life? Whether English is your first or second language, you haven’t studied maths since school or you need to become confident on the computer, we can help you.