Migrants who have successfully integrated publicly share their stories and the challenges they face to help improve perceptions of migrants.
ProjektXchange is a programme of the Austrian Red Cross through which migrants in Austrian society share their journey and achievements with young people to help improve perceptions of migrants. The programme was created in response to changes in public attitudes to migrants: the media, politicians, and ordinary citizens were becoming more hostile and fearful because of the large influx of migrants into the country. Approximately 300 volunteers with a migratory background were invited to act as ‘ambassadors of integration’ and visit schools and youth groups to share their experiences. These ambassadors share their stories, including why they came to Austria, what they do, their experiences of discrimination and xenophobia, and their hopes for the future. Interactions with the audience and young people is encouraged in ProjektXchange workshops and often leads to fruitful discussions. As an additional benefit, ProjektXchange presents young migrants with ‘role models’. These role models show that it is possible, in spite of the many difficulties of being a migrant, to integrate into Austrian society while keeping one’s own identity.
Through the ‘Get to Know Me Campaign’, the New Zealand Red Cross similarly engages migrants who have successfully settled to share their stories. Profiles of New Zealanders with migrant backgrounds are featured alongside a short blurb about themselves on posters across the country. The profiles aim to foster acceptance and understanding of migrants amongst native New Zealanders by showing that they have similar struggles, hopes and dreams.
In 2015 the Austrian Red Cross organized 200 workshops for 4,400 young people. There is high demand for more visits.
Design. [P1] Focused on the need of migrants to be accepted in Austrian society. [P3] Provides an example to young migrants that they can successfully integrate. Directly involves migrants in implementation.
- It was initially difficult to encourage a significant number of migrants to publicly share their stories.
- It was initially difficult to get buy-in from the regional branches to engage in the project; it required a directive from the national branch to get them on board.
- At the moment there is an increasing and unmet demand for more workshops because of the current migrant influx.
- Initially enlisting some high profile migrant celebrities, such as footballers, helped to give the programme momentum and made migrants more willing to be ambassadors.
Smart practices report and database survey
About the report
People migrate in pursuit of a better life for themselves and their families. As described in the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC) Policy on Migration, “migrants are persons who leave or flee their habitual residence to go to new places – usually abroad – to seek opportunities or safer and better prospects.