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Ch 3. Home far away from home - a second life
In the new countries: to find a job, to learn a language, to meet new people…
1. In the new countries: to find a job, to learn a language, to meet new people…
We can start from the study cases in the database, or from the national Reports written by the countries of emigration (Italy between the 50s and 70s; Romania and Slovakia) and notice that they all show differences and similarities. Some considerations told by migrants today sound very similar to those told by the Italians once migrated to Belgium and they all deal with very relevant issues: [read more]
- The importance of having a job, as the main reason of the migration choice and as a formative experience. In fact it is also seen as a factor of personal change and growth and as a chance of “making one’s own life” in the new country. There is a link between the possibility of having better and well paid jobs and the “greater responsibilities and pressures” deriving from it.
- The suffered discriminations. The interviewed people didn’t point out repression incidents or discrimination suffered events. They rather highlighted a general atmosphere of mistrust, widespread stereotypes and prejudices, often cleared thanks to the relationships formed at work and at school. This does not mean that there aren’t or haven’t been serious phenomenon of such problems (as you can notice in other sections of this manual): we can rather think that in our research we tended to interview people who, for various reasons, have already reached an integration process.
- The problems with the language, the bureaucracy, and the social integration. Language is the first problem, the most important one, it is the aspect on which the migrants often measure the level of welcoming attitude of the host countries. The problems with the bureaucracy (often felt as a constricting one) and the social integration (at school, work, for their health) largely depend on their knowledge of the local language.
- The importance, but also the limit for certain extent, of the communities of people coming from the same place, already settled in the host country. They represent a real support in the first stages of the newcomers’ acclimatization, smoothing its hardest effects and ensuring a cultural and affective, as well as economic, interaction between different countries and cultures. At the same time, however, they can block the migrants’ full integration in the new life environment, delaying their confrontation with the natives and their full personal autonomy (in the learning of the language, of the laws, of the bureaucratic procedures etc.).
- A general positive opinion on their own emancipation process, which pushes rancour feelings for possible suffered discriminations to the background. In the experience of the eastern European citizens this is sometimes expressed in statements about their own personal growth (“a better respect about what they owe” or the fact that they became “more direct, more confident and self-disciplined” ). These statements make us think about their previous situations and about the lack of any sense of responsibility that any totalitarian regimes implies.
Other assertions are quite different and show a particular sensitivity towards “the basic civil rights”, such as the free circulation (an obvious constitutional right in post-fascist Italy) or the difference between “voluntary migration” and “forced migration” because of the political and religious persecutions, in which we can trace a memory of the communist past.
In general, the migrants’ experience show us that the problem of the assumption of responsibilities, such as that of the citizenship, involves both the migrants and the natives and could be formulated in this way: how could it be possible to strengthen the process of assumption of responsibilities of people of any origin, in the democratic countries and with the contemporary transformations? Or: which forms of lack of responsibilities are there in western democracies and how is it possible to fight them?
Routes - Copyright 2009 - This project has been funded with support from the European Commission