Jean-Philippe Ruiz of the Comité de liaison des associations d’étrangers speaks with Delano’s Alix Rassell about this year’s Migration Festival, to be held 3-5 March at Luxexpo, during an interview at Clae’s offices in Luxembourg-Gasperich on 18 January 2017
Photo: LaLa La Photo
Inside look at preparations for this spring’s Migration Festival
Delano takes a look at preparations for the next Migration Festival.
Now in its 34th year, the event was initially established as a political statement, to champion equal rights between persons of foreign nationality--primarily “the old immigration” populations of Italy, Portugal and Spain--with their Luxembourgish counterparts.
Nineteen years later, in 2000, the festival was officially rebranded to highlight the cultural dimension of the country’s population (more than 170 nationalities on 1 January 2016) and the unique customs, ethnicity and heritage they bring to the country.
In 2016, more than 400 associations took part in the festival, which attracted over 30,000 visitors to Luxexpo. “We begin preparations around September in order to be ready for March,” said Kristel Pairoux, communications manager of the Comité de liaison des associations d’étrangers, an umbrella group of “foreigner associations” which organises the event. “We have three fulltime members of Clae working on the event, as well as other projects and approximately 200 volunteers.”
Jean-Philippe Ruiz of Clae explains the history of the Migration Festival, which officially began in 1981, during an interview with Delano at the organisation’s Luxembourg-Gasperich offices on 18 January 2017. Picture: Lala La Photo
“Volunteers are responsible for a wide range of tasks,” Jean-Philippe Ruiz, Clae’s primary point of contact for the festival, told Delano on 18 January. “We have one lady in charge of the Portuguese kitchen who is the third generation of her family to be involved in the event. There is definitely a strong community spirit”.
Diversity “unites us”
At a time when the world faces great challenges of inequality and partisanship, the festival highlights the strength and power that union has in this world. “When you come to the festival, you get to visit hundreds of different cultures and countries in one afternoon or one day,” said Ruiz. “You can see firsthand, that what makes us diverse also unites us. It reduces the discontinuity of today’s society.”
Kristel Pairoux of Clae answers a colleague’s question during a meeting at Clae’s offices in Luxembourg-Gasperich on 18 January 2017. Picture: Lala La Photo
In addition to the popular stands selling multicultural cuisines, there is also the possibility to take in one of the many cultural highlights. “We have a stage for performers where people sing, dance and entertain children,” Ruiz stated. “It is a real highlight for me to watch people dancing together and making positive connections and relationships.”
“There are also many benevolent associations present, this allows people to get more involved and give back to their community,” according to Pairoux. “It makes for a very beneficial collaboration.”
Clae’s Claudine Scherrer discusses the organisation’s internet page for the Migration Festival and what information needs to be added urgently to assist visitors and exhibitors during a meeting at Clae’s offices in Luxembourg City on 18 January 2017. Picture: Lala La Photo
Whilst the final preparations are still underway, the dates of the festival are confirmed as Friday 3 to Sunday 5 March with the ‘official’ opening on Saturday 4 March.
The official poster of the 34th Migration Festival, designed by the French artist Richard Atlan, is seen at the offices of the Comité de liaison des associations d’étrangers on 18 January 2017. The group says his Atlan’s of the dove, a peaceful migratory bird, and diversity of colours represent the event’s aim of promoting collaboration and diversification. Picture: Lala La Photo
“Volunteers are always welcome,” Ruiz added, with a grin. “They can either give us a call via the website addresses or pop-in and visit us at the offices here in Gasperich for a coffee and a chat. We are always happy to welcome new volunteers”.