MIMY research in Luxembourg
During the second project year, the team at the University of Luxembourg was conducting fieldwork in its two case studies: in the Northern cantons of Wiltz and Diekirch and in the Southern canton of Esch-sur-Alzette. As the coordinator of the consortium, the MIMY team in Luxembourg consists of six researchers: Prof. Dr. Birte Nienaber, Dr. Isabelle Albert, Dr. José Oliveira, Amalia Gilodi, Jutta Bissinger and Catherine Richard. In addition, remarkable contributions to our fieldwork were made by four peer researchers, joining the team in the summer of 2021. Throughout their active collaboration in the project, this group of young people participated in the conduction of interviews and focus groups and engaged in insightful reflections, relating the experiences of migration and integration collected through the research to their own experiences of moving to and living in Luxembourg. Their powerful reflections, experiences and insights were shared in over 10 texts written for the MIMY Youth Blog. Check out these examples:
- The “perfect immigrant” by Grace
- Learning from the past by Bogdan
- I HAVE A VOICE by Marie
- Integrating into the world by Saskia
The MIMY research efforts in Luxembourg have been extensive, involving different members of the Luxembourgish society in a variety of interviews and focus groups and reaching almost 120 participants. Different groups of young non-EU migrants shared their varied experiences and opinions on integrating and living in Luxembourg in 38 interviews and 3 focus groups. Stakeholders, practitioners and service providers working at the national and local levels shared their insights in 28 interviews and 15 young people born in Luxembourg shared their own stories and challenges of becoming an adult in this country. The experiences and opinions of parents of young migrants and older migrants from the historical main waves of migration to Luxembourg (from Italy, Portugal and Ex-Yugoslavia) were also collected through 9 focus group discussions.
Taking all of this material together, several common themes emerged from our fieldwork as primary barriers to integration for young migrants living in Luxembourg: limited access to education (due to the multilingual context in Luxembourg and patterns of discrimination), precariousness of working and housing conditions, limited social interactions.
Below you can find few selected findings accompanied by relative quotes from some of our participants:
- Limited access to education for young migrants: systemic discrimination?
The complexities of a multilingual educational system, the lack of support from some of the teaching staff, and the tendency to direct (or push) youth with migration background toward vocational education curricula, highly impacting their future social mobility, emerged in many of our research activities as common challenges faced by non-EU migrants studying in Luxembourg. When comparing their experiences with the ones of other pupils, the inequalities observed lead several young people and especially parents to question the role discrimination and racism may play in the educational pathway of non-EU youth living in Luxembourg “ That's why a lot of Cape Verdean children, Portuguese children, that's why they don't advance! Because instead of supporting the children, motivating them to succeed, to arrive, they start to put the children down. And what will the child do? They will lose motivation!" ‘Anyway, my teacher told me I'll never pass anything! Oh yes, anyway, she told me that I am not capable.’* (Luisa: Immigrant mother, North: Canton Of Diekirch And Wiltz)
- Lack of affordable housing, high-cost of living, precarious job market: ‘living’ versus ‘surviving’
Interviews conducted with young migrants originally from Brazil and Cape Verde, have highlighted how not all residents benefit from the high salary and overall wealth of the country. Holding temporary job contracts, earning the minimum wage and consequently not finding suitable accommodation greatly affects not only integration process but also the quality of living of these young people. “It is just to survive… that’s what I’m doing… the income, taking into consideration the cost of living, is not enough and to manage that is not easy…” (Carlos: Young Cape-Verdean, South: Canton of Esch Sur Alzette) “if you’re a normal person in Luxembourg and you don’t have a super job, if your family is not rich… it’s very complicated” (António: Young Brazilian, South: Canton of Esch Sur Alzette)
- The problem of the 18-25: not children, not adults
Interviews with both stakeholders and young migrants highlighted as a main challenge the lack of financial support in Luxembourg for young people between 18 and 25 years old not enrolled in education, who do not get access to the main social financial assistance schemes. “They are completely lost! Because they don't get the financial help a minor gets, but they don't get the financial help an adult gets. So from the age of 18 to 24 they are, they are in a nirvana. They don't, they don't even exist!” (Social worker in an NGO, South: Canton of Esch Sur Alzette)
- Extensive isolation of young refugees in reception centres: “a never-ending cycle of stress”
The very challenging housing context (extremely high prices and lack of sufficient social housing) in Luxembourg often forces refugees to continue living in ‘temporary’ reception centres even after their asylum request has been accepted. 15 interviews were conducted with this specific group of young migrants to better understand how their living conditions affect their integration processes and lives in Luxembourg.
“It is quite challenging because it’s a big part of your life, the place you live at. For example, you go outside to school, lots of people, lots of noises, you go to work, lots of people and you go home, the home should be the place where you just de-stress, decompress you know, relax a little bit. But in our case, we go back home and we are faced with even more stress. So it’s just a never-ending cycle of stress.” (Habib: Young refugee, South: Canton Of Esch Sur Alzette).
“The system is difficult, because I cannot leave this place, if I still live in a refugee housing, I cannot enter the system. Because I still live with Eritreans. If I find a room next to a neighbor, that is Luxembourgish or French, I'll speak better. If I enter the system here, it will be very easy to speak French or Luxembourgish.” (Kidane: Young refugee, North: Cantons of Diekirch and Wiltz)
Stay tuned for more!