For me, the MIMY project represents participation, learning from other migrants' experiences, and sharing my own experiences. It has been of great importance to me, as a peer researcher in the MIMY project in Sweden, to see how my own experience of migration and integration can be both similar and different from other migrants. I migrated with my family from Somalia to Sweden in 2013.
In this project, I have felt like a link between the researchers and the participants as I have helped the researchers and the participants to understand each other, both culturally and in matters of interpretation. I have also discussed with the researchers about the different topics that emerged in interviews with the participants and how to see these topics from different perspectives. My role as a peer-researcher has made me take a step into the academic world and gained insight into what research means, and it has aroused an interest in me to immerse myself in the subject of migration and integration.
During the project, we interviewed many different people with different migratory backgrounds, and they all had different views on the concept of “integration”. I noticed that the participants many times linked “integration” to what they lack in Swedish society. For example, those who do not know the Swedish language believe that they are not integrated into society, as well as for those who do not have a job but can speak good Swedish. Those who know the language and have a job may still think that they are not integrated into Swedish society because they lack belonging and community. Although most people agree that it is important to learn the new language in the new country, find a job, and live safely with your family, there may still be a gap between a person and society. Integration, for many people who I know myself, is about feeling at home, and feeling belonging and community with the people you live with in your neighbourhood/city/country. It’s a society where you feel that give and take and where no one doubts your efforts and that you are part of this society. Before we carried out the interviews with migrant youth with positive experiences in Sweden, I thought I was alone with the idea that integration is not just about knowing the language and having a job. But while conducting the interviews I heard others who think the same as I do despite having come a long way in their careers.
The participants we interviewed have had different living conditions and privileges, but what is common to all is that they have encountered challenges during the time they rebuild their lives in the new country, in this case Sweden. They have chosen to believe in themselves instead of giving up, they have resisted obstacles, and dared to take a place in this country and asserting themselves. They silenced voices that told them they were a burden to society and instead raised voices that spoke of them as resources. The main resource of the migrants we interviewed was first and foremost their strong desire to succeed, but also that they’ve had people around them that have supported and helped them achieve their goals.
As a co-researcher, I have learnt incredibly much from the people I met, both researchers and participants. They all broadened my view on migration and integration. It has been a truly meaningful experience to be a part of this project.