The Top Trumps Game
Played first with the audience of the NorthBound-Conference in Derry, Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages (AICH) at the University of Ulster, 12th May 2007
“Top Trumps” is a game most people might know from their childhood. One player begins and selects one of the pieces of information provided on the card and reads this loud. The rest of the players then read out this information from their respective cards. The person with the highest (or lowest) value wins the cards from the other players and puts them under his pile. Some values in this game need to be discussed.
Introduction on 12th May 2007
I find a front page of THE INDEPENDENT, the greatest fears and prejudices against migrants and the TRUTH. The fears are often heard: don’t pay taxes, abuse our social system, take our jobs away.
September 2006: I am invited to do a top trump game on work migration in Dublin. Via the Department of Enterprises, TRADE AND EMPLOYMENT I get the numbers of the nationalities living and working in the Republic. What I do not get: where do work migrants work? What do they get paid? How many hours do they work? What do they pay for rent? I play the game on a sunny Sunday with more than 40 strangers in Dublin parks and railway stations, in pubs. I get to hear a lot via my game partners.
October 2006: I meet my colleague R. reader in Fine Arts, also from Germany. He introduces me to his polish wife, an architect. They both lived and worked for the past 20 years in Germany. She needs to learn English, she does not want to get in contact with the polish community in Belfast. She is afraid to get stuck in her own community.
November 2006: I attend a conference in the Queens University, School of History and Anthropology, called Emotional Interaction, migrants and local communities.
December 2006: My colleague Anthony and I decide to start a media project with and for migrants, called “Whose Voice is it Anyways”. The Queens University swimming pool, at days I hear more Polish, Chinese, Indian, German than English.
January 2007: I read a book about female polish work migrants in Germany, being the support system for the female German academic careers. Wasn’t the feministic movement about a collective liberation worldwide out of dependence and underpayment? An idea of sharing social responsibilities with the male part of society? The Lithuanian and Russian women take care of the polish families and households while the polish take care of the Germans, I learn…
February 2007: I start my research about Polish and Lithuanian work migrants in Northern Ireland. Anthony and I start meeting foreigners of all background to introduce our media project.
March 2007: I decide this time to ask questions: Where do polish people work. What do they earn, how many hours do they work, what kind of contract do they get…. I get the first responses. A. does not want to tell me how few she earns. She has a master in psychology and works as a caretaker. Many refuse to tell me more about their working hours
April 2007: I meet potential participants for our media project. They read our advertisement in Glostik, Jakub was so kind to offer an ad and a translation.
May 2007: My husband joins a migrant theatre project, belonging to Highway to Health. Migrants are interviewed about their experience here. He comes home and tells me that polish people lost their house, that neighbours advice them to move. My colleague Sandra tells me on Monday about a demonstration in her little hometown 12 miles away from Belfast against Lithuanians trying to settle down there.
On a scientific committee in Sweden, I meet the architect Eva from Lublin. She explains to me that migration was always known in Poland, the young generation saves up money to start their own business at home. Nothing unusual. I wonder, after finding number like 35 000 polish in NI, 41000 in the republic, 2000000 in GB and 125 000 polish in Germany, just as some example, is part of Poland completely empty? The Polish diaspora (Polish community abroad) amounts to 40 million and is thus second largest diaspora in the world, next to that of China.
The aim of a migrant worker is to improve life via work, experience, language, ... I wanted to know if that is really happening.
Polen in Nordirland Quartett