How do you build a community?

Some migrants look forward to seeing family or friends when they move to a new place, but for others it can be an isolating experience. Community spaces, whether formal or informal, help people make new social connections. This might mean connecting with other migrants in similar situations or making friends in one’s new country. When away from one’s country of origin, community spaces are sometimes the only places that feel like home.

Splash Foundation: Hong Kong

Splash Foundation is a charity that offers free swimming lessons to migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong. To date, they have taught over 1,000 students how to swim. Splash is a volunteer-run organization and some of its students have even become swimming coaches after graduating from the program.   

Taipei Main Station: Taiwan

On Sundays, Taipei Main Station in Taiwan is transformed into space where Indonesian migrants gather to socialize on their only day off from work. Its central location makes it a popular place to meet – for both workers who live in the city and those who travel from outside Taipei to spend their day off with friends.

Brilliant Time Bookstore: Taipei, Taiwan

Brilliant Time Bookstore in Taipei, Taiwan is a Southeast Asian community space that functions as both a bookstore and a library, carrying reading material in Mandarin and various Southeast Asian languages. It also doubles as an event space for talks, readings, and language classes.

When we arrived at Brilliant Time Bookstore on a warm Friday evening, the first floor library space was packed. Everyone was gathered for a free talk by the mysterious, “Mr. Broker” (a pseudonym adopted to protect him from retaliation at his job as a labor broker.) For over 90 minutes the room sat in rapt silence, with many taking notes as he described the current industry and encouraged the crowd to know their rights.

Student describing a program at Brilliant Time Bookstore