A daily journey

Monday 16 September 2019

Jonathan Lai is a graduate educator at the Saint Antoine Refugee Centre in Luxembourg City. He accompanies the refugees in their daily lives and is particularly concerned with the schooling of young people under 22 years of age, some of whom are minors.

Why did you choose the profession of educator?

I noticed during my summer jobs as a summer camp monitor that I enjoyed working with young people in difficulty. Even then, I was particularly keen to do everything I could to ensure that these young people could have a wonderful holiday, far from the problems that are rarely theirs but those of their parents, adults.

What do you think are the qualities of a good educator?

The first quality is listening and when I talk about listening it is not only listening to what the person is saying, but also to what its body, its gestures, its attitude are telling us. It's important! Another essential quality is the ability to create a relationship with the person you are accompanying so that it can trust you and work together. This is not given to everyone. You have to be very sociable and above all not be afraid of difference.

What is the difference with what a social worker does?

Social workers are more concerned with administrative procedures, while educators are more involved in people's daily lives. Here at the centre, educators ensure, for example, that everyone is well settled and that the community is functioning. We are working with residents to find solutions to improve their daily lives while they wait for them to leave the home.

What do you like about your job?

It is of course the fact of accompanying people who come from very different and culturally very rich countries. I am learning new things every day and I think I will never stop learning. In fact, I often tell my friends that I feel like I'm "travelling" when I go to work. I also like the diversity of the work. No two days are alike. Moreover, it is difficult to plan the days because there are always unforeseen events that must be treated as a priority and that therefore relay what was planned in the background. But I like it.

And what do you like least about it?

Unfortunately, we may not be able to help a person as they should be able to be helped either because the possible solutions are difficult to implement or because the person is not yet ready to accept the help offered. Sometimes you have to be very patient. In my opinion, patience is an asset when doing this job because the fruit of our work is not always immediately visible.

What makes you stronger on a daily basis?

It is of course teamwork. This allows us to look at the problems crosswise and propose better solutions. At the same time, you don't feel alone when faced with problems. The other element that gives me strength is the fact that I share activities with the people I accompany. We play, for example, indoor football or volleyball. In these moments of recreation, it is a pleasure for me to see them happy and carefree, at least for a few hours and it is also an opportunity to better communicate certain messages (respect for rules, collaboration/assistance etc....).

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