Nelli Stavropolou is a creative producer and arts-based researcher exploring lived experiences of forced displacement. For the past five years she has curated and programmed Moving Worlds for Counterpoints Arts, a special programme of films available to watch during Refugee Week. She is also a proud Trustee of Durham City of Sanctuary and Chilli Studios.
1. What have you worked on recently that you want to tell us about?
The latest project I’ve been working on is Moving Worlds – a special film programme designed for Refugee Week. Responding to this year’s theme ‘We Cannot Walk Alone’, our programme hosts a selection of films (features and shorts), which invite us to focus on how we can walk alongside and offers important lessons about embracing, celebrating and investing in difference as a pathway to solidarity.
2. How would you describe your job/ what you do to a five year old?
I am a researcher and a storyteller. I collaborate with people and hear their brave stories of travelling to the UK to find safety and peace. I hope that through my work I can be in a position to inform and hopefully change the ways in which we understand and respond to such issues.
3. What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
I’ve never really had a bad job. Even during the most demanding roles I’ve focused on how much I grew as an individual. I’ve worked alongside many inspiring people and have contributed towards important work that challenges inequality, mis-representation and supports personal expression.
4. Where did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up in Athens, Greece. My childhood summers are some of my happiest memories. I would spend a big chunk of the summer holidays with my grandparents at the island of Syros. Nothing beats a Greek summer and family time.
5. Growing up, what was your dream job?
Growing up I hoped I would be able to join an international non-governmental organisation offering help to individuals seeking humanitarian protection. In many ways I have succeeded in having my dream job(s) through being a Trustee of Durham City Sanctuary, collaborating with Refugee Week and Counterpoints Arts, and being a researcher. I feel very lucky that I am inspired and excited by my work, and that every new project presents an opportunity to learn from others.
6. If you had to be shipwrecked on a deserted island with food and water, what two items would you want to have with you and why?
I would need a raincoat and sunglasses. I’m assuming I would end up somewhere warm but it wouldn’t hurt to be prepared for occasional tropical storms!
7. How do you think your family and friends would describe you?
I think they would say that I am loyal; that I can keep a secret; and that I worry too much about what others think about me.
8. Can you give us a film, podcast or book recommendation?
I’ll give you 11 film recommendations – all you need to do is check out our Moving Worlds film programme 😉 But apart from the obvious plug, I would recommend reading Yousif M. Qasmiyeh’s, Writing The Camp. A brave and beautifully reflective book drawn from Poet-scholar Qasmiyeh’s personal experience of growing up at the Baddawi refugee camp in Lebanon.
9. Who inspires you to do what you do?
My family and especially my mother, my grandfather, and my husband. All three of them have supported, nurtured and challenged me in different ways and at different stages of my life. Since welcoming my daughter, she is now the inspiration behind everything I do.
10. What would make the world a better place?
Breaking down barriers and borders of difference and realising that we can only reach our full potential by being kind towards others as well as ourselves. Ultimately, recognising and respecting that we are all different and unique – yet connected by our humanity.
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