Personal Journal 1
December 15, 2016
Self-Employment for migrants and refugees
January 20, 2017

Personal Journal 2

Day 1: Registration + Understanding the Migration Issues of Southern EU Countries 

   BEFORE THE WORKSHOP: WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO LEARN FROM THIS SESSION

I expect and hope to learn about the system in place in Italy for receiving refugees, who are the practitioners and institutions involved in helping them settle and about the funding for this issues. I would also like to know a bit more about the difficulties they encounter when arriving in Italy and other EU countries.

I would also like to network and make new friends, and learn about other participants’ experiences and points of view.

   AFTER THE WORKSHOP: WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED

The presentation by Alessandra Cugnetto was very interesting. I have learnt a lot about the reception systems in place in Italy, namely the first reception (C.A.R.A. and C.A.S.) and second reception (Sprar). She spoke to us about CARITAS and how it is involved with receiving refugees, as well as the difference between ‘integrated reception’ and ‘diffuse reception’. I also gained an understanding of the way migrants in danger at sea in international waters were and are helped through programmes such as Mare Nostrum and later, Frontex.

   SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT

          Alessandra’s presentation was great, very well structured and informed. However, it was in Italian and  the interpreting took a long time, and wasn’t accounted for it in our daily programme

          Claudia’s presentation was a bit rushed as a result of running late earlier in the day

          I would have liked to have a chance to discuss more about the solutions that should be taken in order to make the settlement as smooth as possible both for the migrants and the local population

   WHAT DID YOU LIKE THE MOST

I liked the honesty of both Alessandra and Claudia. We were explained how the system works but also made aware that in practice things don’t work as well as they’re supposed to (for example, the language and job training, because of lack of qualified teachers, relying on volunteers and the fact that the skills learned are not matched to the market’s needs)

Day 2: FULL DAY VISIT to Riace with Mayor DOMENICO LUCANO

   BEFORE THE WORKSHOP: WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO LEARN FROM THIS SESSION

I expect to learn about the migration issues in Riace, both immigration and emigration, how the cultural and religious differences are accommodated within the community and also whether there are any issues related to racism and how they are handled. I would like to know about the opportunities for the refugees to settle there or whether it is only a temporary reception and then they are likely to move somewhere else.

It would be great to see how the refugees have had a positive impact on the community by helping keep the schools open and the traditional crafts alive.

   AFTER THE WORKSHOP: WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED

Riace has had a significant exodus of people starting at the beginning of the 20th century, especially towards North and South America. Nowadays most of the emigration is towards northern Italy and other European countries.

The first immigrant has arrived in Riace in 1998 and since then the mayor has helped accommodate the new arriving people in the houses that were left abandoned by the emigrants. In the first 3 years, this was done purely through the efforts of the community and then they started receiving funds from the government. Refugees are expected to live for approximately two years in the village, while their papers are processed and they adjust to the new country.

We visited a couple of workshops where African women learn traditional crafts, such as weaving and pottery.

To the mayor’s surprise, his model has received international attention and he is invited to speak at Cambridge and the Vatican.

   SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT

          It was great to meet the mayor of Riace, he was very inspiring in his talks about keeping in mind the human dimension when receiving refugees. Meeting him briefly in a square wasn’t the best option, it was difficult to hear at times and we hoped to be able to ask more questions.

          I personally expected to meet more people, both immigrants and locals, and speak to them about how the integration process works, than just the couple of people we stopped on the streets.

   WHAT DID YOU LIKE THE MOST

A local who was selling fruit in the central square of the village was very kind to us, offering his products for us to try, took us for a small tour of the village and told us about life in Riace and, of course, his whole family story. It was very nice to see that the locals are very welcoming.

Day 3: History of Immigration in Southern Europe and Perceptions

   BEFORE THE WORKSHOP: WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO LEARN FROM THIS SESSION

It would be useful and interesting to see the history of migration to southern Europe, when it started, which were the countries the immigrants were coming from, the reasons for migration and how they change(d). I would also like to know more about how they were received, the attitudes and stereotypes exhibited by the locals and about the integration process.

Also, it is interesting to observe the differences between immigrants from EU and non-EU countries, the difficulties they face, how they adjust.

   AFTER THE WORKSHOP: WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED

I learned of the numbers of immigrants in Greece, Italy and Spain in the ’90s and ‘00s, the countries they were coming from and how they were perceived. The media has a big impact on peoples’ opinions and adjectives such as ‘others’, ‘desperate’, ’foreigners’, ‘undesirables’, ‘criminals’ and ‘delinquents’ were and are still very common, although statistics show immigrants are guilty of less crimes on average than locals.

From Alessandra’s presentation I learned a bit more about the reception of refugees in Italy and other southern European countries, about the work Caritas does related to the reception of immigrants, as well as about the existence of the ‘Dossier Statistico Immigrazione’ which contains extensive information on the subject of immigration in Italy. I was also made aware of the formal and informal reception centres and their differences, as well as of the politics of ‘externalisation of borders’.

   SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT

          Just as on the first day, we run a bit late and didn’t have enough time to discuss into more detail issues such as how will the migrants arriving in the southern Italy will change the rest of the Europe.

          Although the visit to Tropea was amazing, it seems that there was not enough time to have two presentations and a cultural visit in one day

   WHAT DID YOU LIKE THE MOST

Alessandra is an amazing speaker, she is likeable and engaging, very knowledgeable and has a lot of experience in field work. She can always answer questions by giving examples and case studies for us to really understand the phenomenon.

 

 

Day 4:  How are different cultures and religions accommodated in Europe?

   BEFORE THE WORKSHOP: WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO LEARN FROM THIS SESSION

I hope to gain a better understanding on how religious and cultural difference are dealt with in Europe and how minorities are integrated and helped to feel part of the community, as well as how to tackle and reduce extremism.

Regarding the mental health issues migrants face, I would like to know more about their nature and what are the differences between sexes and various cultural backgrounds.

It would be useful to gain a more thorough understanding of the institutions or charities involved in dealing with these problems.

   AFTER THE WORKSHOP: WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED

I learned about some initiatives and programmes that are in place to help refugees in the UK, such as: Code Your Future, Techfugees, Chickpea Sisters, Transitions London, The Bike Project and many more.

Tholani’s presentation highlighted methods of preventing radicalisation and the importance of social inclusion. He focused on Britain, but also gave some examples from other European countries.

Faateema’s presentation explained the different reasons that make people become mentally unwell and the different stages of mental health problems. She also related it to immigration, drawing a difference between migrants, first generation and 1.5 generation, and how their culture and social-economic status in the country they come from influence how they integrate in the host country. She also gave us a few practical examples to understand how immigrants get or fail to get help for their mental health problems and what are the difficulties involved in this process.

Halid helped us understand how the Islamic faith is perceived in Italy and the different systems of integration in Europe (assimilation in France, multiculturalism in Britain and intercultural society in Italy and Germany).

   SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT

          Faateema’s presentation was very long, it could have been condensed a bit and focus more on the important aspects related to the training.

          Halid’s views created a bit of controversy. I feel that after a certain point in time, the discussion deviated from the subject and he was focusing on the virtues of Islam. It would be useful that speakers were made aware that this is not appropriate.

   WHAT DID YOU LIKE THE MOST

Tholani’s presentation was very engaging and it inspired us to talk a lot on the subject, during and after the presentation finished.

Day 5: Migrant Pathway Options (2) + Afternoon visit to a local “centro di accoglienza”

   BEFORE THE WORKSHOP: WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO LEARN FROM THIS SESSION

I would like to understand and see first-hand how the refugees are received, integrated into society and supported in order to become independent.

   AFTER THE WORKSHOP: WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED

 

Alessandra stressed the importance of being aware of cultural differences and giving refugees the time they need to open up, to share their values, in order to be able to integrate them successfully.

The system of reception is in the process of being perfected and conditions in some regions are better than in others. After the refugees get their papers, they are assessed in order to see what their individual project is and then the benefits end. Therefore, it is important that they are helped become independent by that stage, through language learning, civic education, courses for professional qualifications and work placements. The funding accessible to them are: SIA (System of Active Integration), FEI (European Funds for Immigration), FER (European Funds for Refugees) and the Inside project which supports getting them into employment by paying the equivalent of their first four months salaries.

I also learned about the important role the catholic church has in convincing local population to be cooperative and help receive, shelter, feed and clothe the refugees. The three teenagers living in a donated house in what is called ‘diffuse reception’ seemed happy to be part of the community in Maida village.

   SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT

          Just as in the previous days, the interpreting should be factored into the daily schedule because it almost doubles the time of the presentation.

   WHAT DID YOU LIKE THE MOST

Alessandra organised a workshop which consisted of us drawing a daisy containing our values and the things important to us in life and a collage that expressed the concept of culture. The purpose of this exercise was to first understand ourselves for us to be able to understand other people’s culture and way of life.

 

 

 

Day 6:  Workshop at a migrant centre in Reggio Calabria – FULL day visit padre MIOLI

   BEFORE THE WORKSHOP: WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO LEARN FROM THIS SESSION

I expect to work alongside staff and volunteers in the local centre, speak to both refugees and staff and see how a normal day for them unfolds.

   AFTER THE WORKSHOP: WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED

I learned about how refugees coming by sea are first received and in what numbers: given clothes and blankets to warm up, identified, medical checked, being released only in groups of 50 from the boat for security reasons. I was also made aware of the fact that the real number of deaths at sea is supposed to be three times higher than statistics and the work the Italian marine is doing to try and curb it.

We visited a local help-centre, a centre for minors, the church for immigrants and then another centre for younger minors. This gave us a sense of the community and how the refugees are received, helped and accepted in Reggio Calabria, especially after a tragic incident when people died at sea and from which they have the symbol of the Cross of Lampeduza. I learned about issues such as family reunion and the protection of minors who are very vulnerable and can be an easy prey to criminal organisations. Padre Mioli talked us through the legal help refugees can be provided with, what sort of jobs they get and projects put in place to facilitate their integration in the job market, such as Sicilia Integrata, Pellegrino della Terra and Sartoria Sociale.

   SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT

          I expected this day to be very practical and a chance for us to work with refugees. I feel that purpose wasn’t achieved, instead it was a heavy day filled with a lot of visits and information.

          Some people in our group thought that we were a bit intrusive when going to see the minor centre and the camp where people where sheltered straight after landing. I personally believe it was useful, even if a bit tough, to have this first-hand experience.

   WHAT DID YOU LIKE THE MOST

I liked father Mioli and sister Lina, they were very kind. I have to admit that probably the highlight of the day for me was the amazing lunch we had, where we got the chance to taste a lot of different local dishes.

 

Day 7:  The importance of promoting European values and tackle social exclusion

   BEFORE THE WORKSHOP: WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO LEARN FROM THIS SESSION

I expect to learn about how social exclusion is tackled in different European countries, hopefully through case studies. I would also like to know how people from different cultures, countries and social backgrounds face different degrees of risk of being excluded.

I hope to get a good understanding of how these issues are faced and addressed in Italy with the arrival of many refugees from Middle Eastern and African countries. I definitely look forward to discussing on the subject of how they can be helped in their respective countries so that there will not be a need for them to make this risky journey and adjust to a totally different culture.

   AFTER THE WORKSHOP: WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED

 

From Tholani’s presentation I learned a lot about racism, intolerance and extremism in the UK, illustrated through case studies.

Ivan helped us understand the refugees’ journeys through Africa and the dangers they face, the outcome of the asylum applications in Italy and what comes next for asylum seekers in different scenarios they could find themselves in.

I also gained an understanding of the scale of human displacements in the world and in recent history in Southern European countries, how and why refugees are trying to avoid identification in Italy and how they can be supported if they decide to return and build their lives in their home countries.

   SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT

          I believe this was a brilliant day, both presentations were very good.

   WHAT DID YOU LIKE THE MOST

I liked Tholani’s presentation, it was very engaging and provided us with a lot of practical examples and news article to illustrate issues such as racism, extremism and intolerance. It also inspired a lot of talks between the members of the group.

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