I chose to focus my research on recently arrived, unaccompanied, underage asylum seekers because my side job as a language teacher gave me access to several members of this group. But in early 2016, Hamburg reached its quota of refugees – Germany as a whole doesn’t have a quota, but individual German states do – which means that when more refugees arrived and registered in Hamburg after that, they were sent to other German states. So there are no new refugees coming in to Hamburg. Since the language school I worked at was intensive German language classes before the kids were given places at a real school, this meant enrollment went way down as no new students arrived, but de-enrollment rates stayed the same as they went on to real school. Therefore, the school underwent a major downsizing in February, March and April, and let go about 3/4 of its staff by April 2016 – myself included.
So I lost my access to the target population for my research and need to find a new way to find subjects. I have already applied for, but did not get, one internship working with refugee youth. Although my research now no longer has to be focused on underage unaccompanied minors, I would prefer to still focus on young refugees because young people make up a huge percentage of the 2015 refugee crisis and because I have already gathered some literature focusing on young people’s and children’s media use.
Moving forward, I will regularly comb job websites and Facebook groups for job opportunities working with refugees, and also be on the lookout for volunteer opportunities to work with refugees. I hope my experience teaching German as a foreign language will be helpful in finding opportunities to work with this group.