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“Having Fun, Finding Friends”
In what ways do young refugees, adolescents or young adults, take advantage of the open-youth-work in North-Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate? This is the topic of a pilot study of the University of Siegen.
Adolescents and young adults who have fled crisis areas and come to Germany do not want to be classified as "victims" in youth centers and other youth work programs. Doing sports, finding friends and just having fun is what young refugees hope for, when participating in youth clubs. These are the findings of a pilot study of the University of Siegen under the direction of Prof. Dr. Thomas Coelen. The research team interviewed 16 to 22-year-old refugees in North-Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate. The study is scheduled to continue for two years until the end of 2018 and aims to shed light on the living environment of young people in their new homeland. The Stiftung Ravensburger Verlag promotes the Siegen educational scientists in the field of youth education, socialization and life course research in their work.
Just how do minors and young adults with a flight history use the offers of open youth work? What is their perception of them? What is the (social) pedagogical expert's perspective on the situation of the refugees? The researchers are trying to answer these central questions of youth work. However, the pilot study does not focus on research but on the practical application of the results of youth work.
The interviewed adolescents stated that one important motivation is contact with their peers. They want to make friends, play football, basketball or billiards, and look forward to excursions and similar activities. Many want to escape boredom, especially if they live in rural areas. The young people also support each other’s learning process. They want to improve their command of the German language and actively use the new language instead of just acquiring book knowledge. Those who know German a little better can help others, translating when necessary. Many young people also appreciate help from the caregivers when it comes to dealing with the authorities. Having this option alone proved reassuring and beneficial.
So far, young people have been interviewed, some of them several times (qualitative survey), as well as youth work professionals (representative survey). The next phase of the study will look at the young refugees who have a negative attitude towards youth clubs and who do not accept the offers of youth work. The overall results will be presented at the end of the year at a final scientific conference in Frankfurt.
Professor Dr. Thomas Coelen, Jennifer Buchna
Universität Siegen, Fachgebiet Sozialisation, Jugendbildung, Lebenslaufforschung