Keywords: Multicultural, exchanges, immigration, celebration, discovery, integration, sharing

A colourful start to the new school year for the people of Sanem !

In connection with its research project on « Identification and integration into the life of Luxembourg of people from non-European Union countries for better resilience and participation » and in the framework of the « Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund » (AMIF) of the Ministry of Family, Integration and the Greater Region, EcoTransFaire had the opportunity to participate, on Saturday 11 September 2021, in the 2nd COLORISSIMO multicultural festival organised by the Sanem Integration Advisory Committee. Various national and international stands came together at the Scheierhaff in Soleuvre to promote multi-culturality and living together. It was an eventful day full of surprises that no one will forget!

Together with the Maison des jeunes of Soleuvre and in collaboration with the Luxembourg artist Raphael Gindt, the young refugees of the Résidence Dickskopp took part in the official opening of the event by presenting us with their magnificent fresco AGAINST RACISM, a symbol of acceptance and savoir-vivre. Accompanied by background music composed by local musicians and messages of tolerance collected from various people in the community, this opening had the desired effect on the public. You will soon find this mural in the municipality of Sanem. So keep your eyes open!

During the day, various activities were also offered. In the morning, the children of the ADIE association were able to show their vocal talents during a singing show. Cooking classes, face painting and henna tattoos were also on offer for the younger children. In the afternoon, we were able to enjoy a tour of various cultures thanks to the Ukrainian accordionists, the Portuguese concertina group Saudades Lusitanas, the dancers from the Passaparola association and many other performances. Of course, let’s not forget the Salseando association, which got everyone dancing salsa, bachata and merengue!

The public was also able to treat their taste buds to culinary stands from all over the world (Syria, Eritrea, Turkey, Portugal, Italy, Algeria, Ukraine, Panama, Brazil, etc.) and discover decorative objects/handicrafts from Burkina Faso, Italy and many other countries. There was something for everyone!

The objective of the EcoTransFaire stand was to give the floor to the residents (foreigners and natives) of the municipality of Sanem in order to find out more about their vision of Luxembourg and the activities/actions that could be put in place to improve integration and living together. As far as the distinctive sign representing Luxembourg is concerned, people mainly insisted on the “Nature” aspect. Both natives and foreigners seem to particularly appreciate the green spaces that the country offers (Müllerthal, Grund etc.). The photo of the Grand Duke and the Luxembourg civil flag with the red lion crowned in gold also seem to be popular with our public. Finally, the opportunity to have free access to public transport was highlighted by many residents.

We were also able to gather some interesting remarks. Some people pointed out the lack of festivals for young people and the lack of events highlighting “Luxembourg culture”, which could explain why some foreigners find it difficult to identify a cultural symbol representing Luxembourg. Residents of the commune would also welcome more local shops (supermarkets, etc.) and fenced parks where their four-legged friends could run around freely.

During the day, we could also observe a certain divide between the different cultures present at the event. Perhaps due to the absence of a mediator… In response to this problem, EcoTransFaire’s proposal would be to appoint several representatives of associations as mediators/facilitators during the day. This would perhaps allow the different backgrounds to mix and share more of their culture.

Finally, among the actions/activities that were proposed by EcoTransFaire, three of them were very successful. In first place comes the project of the MINIBUS DU VIVRE ENSEMBLE (Living Together), whose aim would be to fight against social isolation and to bring smiles and conviviality in the southern area of Luxembourg. This little wagon could spend half a day in the centre of each commune (+- every two weeks), offering refreshments and inviting the inhabitants to join them around mini-tables. Like a travelling café, a little music could accompany this pleasant moment and strengthen social links within the communes. Among the activities of the minibus, people will also be able to find the “Travelling Language Café”, which makes it an intergenerational and multicultural concept. Some people also pointed out that it would be interesting to implement this concept in the communes of northern Luxembourg.

In second place, we find our EMPLOYMENT SUPPORT PROGRAMME. The objective of this programme is to promote the integration of third-country nationals into the Luxembourg labour market, in particular through networking with Luxembourg companies and the public service. People with non-recognised foreign diplomas or wishing to benefit from professional experience in their field of training may be supported through mentoring and internships. This sponsorship system could eventually be extended to the public service where the Luxembourg language plays an important role (municipalities, administrations, CFL, etc.). In this way, foreigners wishing to practise Lëtzebuergësch will be able to benefit from a real linguistic immersion.

Lastly, in third place, we find our LANGUAGE CAFE NOT LIKE ANY OTHER! Our aim was to bring the concept up to date in order to stimulate exchanges and make language learning more fun. The aim of this new language café is therefore to organise a “Language Speed-Dating” which would allow people from different backgrounds to meet and talk one-to-one or in groups around a table. A bell would ring to tell people to change tables every 10-15 minutes.

A last, but not least, interesting proposal made by a resident of the commune would be to install benches (in parks) specifically designed to create links between residents. This concept would come from Germany and would help to create social links in the vicinity of municipalities. The aim would be to put an explicit message on the public benches such as “Sit down and wait for someone to come and talk to you“.

In short, you will have understood! This day was full of suggestions and proposals from the residents of the commune. The atmosphere was joyful and festive. We are happy to have been able to participate as a stand and hope to be able to contribute more to integration and living together thanks to the feedback we received during this multicultural festival.

Written by Sabrina GENCO, trainee at EcoTransFaire for her Master in Psychological Sciences – Evaluation & Assessment – University of Luxembourg
In the framework of the AMIF Project with the Ministry of Family, Integration and the Greater Region