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Trust and Security

The establishment of a trustful and secure environment is essential for teaching and working with migrants. Although this is an essential part of all teaching processes and social services, the question of trust and security gains even more prominence under the situation of migration especially, forced migrants. First of all, migrants are often confronted with a social situation which is alien to them. They may face the problem that people and their habits, neighbourhoods and communities, organisations and institutions work in a way that migrants are unfamiliar with. This leads to uncertainty and puts migrants in an uneasy and insecure situation. Teachers and other professionals dealing with migrants have to reflect this specific situation, be absolutely transparent about the goals, the tasks, and the methods used in the course/programme and make sure that all feel secure in the environment. (see also the section on ethics on our website:

Trust is essential in the society, but specifically of relationships between professionals and their clients. To trust means that you rely on another person (trustee) who will not take advantage of your vulnerable situation and will takes care of what is entrusted. It is always a relation between a trustor, a trustee and someone or something that is taken care of by the trustee. For example, the teacher and other professionals have to make transparent which secrets are kept safe in the teaching environment. There are always asymmetries between trustor and trustee as the trustor is in a vulnerable situation. To trust means to show oneself vulnerable. It is essential for teachers and other professionals to value if someone entrusts something and that none of the participants take advantage of this situation.

Particularly, forced migrants have experienced that trust is betrayed. They often experienced traumatic situations in their country of origin when the social order erodes, the state and its institutions no longer care for the security of their members, when war and violence unsettle their basic trust. Furthermore, forced migrants are often separated from their folks who they trust and have to trust often unreliable persons. Finally, when they arrive, they realize that the resident population often distrusts the arriving population and that it is hard to orient themselves in the new environment with its institutional regulations, organisations, and professionals.

It is important to clarify this issue in the very beginning and to remind participants from time to time as well as to intervene systematically if there are signs of an erosion of trust.

It is all the more pivotal to explain all steps in a course/in a programme slowly, to make sure that the language is well understood, to provide translation wherever is necessary, to give time to talk and to reflect, and to enable participation in the process.

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