One day, I was explaining to an American friend everything that we do at SINGA for the inclusion of refugees in our society. ‘I really want to be put in contact with French people, too’ she said with enthusiasm and a touch of regret : ‘It’s now been 9 years that I’m living in France, but I have 0 French friends’. She works in a large international society, where she is constantly surrounded by people from all over the world. Her French colleagues already have friends that they’ve known since they were young. They also have their families here in Paris or elsewhere in France. After work, like all the French people, they cut their ties with their professional world and go to find their friends and families. It’s the same thing during the weekends and holidays too.
But my friend lives in Paris. Far away from her family and university friends from Virginia. She spends her time afterwork and at the weekends in her apartment, with her international friends.
‘My dear Jennifer! You’re an exile, too’ I replied.
My flatmate Nicolas is from Bordeaux, a little shy and living in Paris for the past 4 years. At 30 years old, he hasn’t been able to make any friends in his Parisian life. For a change of scenery, he ‘goes down to the south’ to see his friends and his family. He’s also told me several times that he would really like to be involved with a structure like SINGA, in an incubator that supports the ‘provincials’ that come to Paris in developing their projects (boutiques, electric cigarette stores etc). He didn’t know anyone in the Parisian entrepreneur ecosystem. Without having this support or ‘social capital’, it’s impossible to embark on an adventure like this.
With Jennifer and Nicolas we can agree that : we are all more or less ‘migrants’. It doesn’t matter the reason that we decided to migrate, at the end of the day we find ourselves in the same situation: potentially excluded from our host society.