In my early twenties I set off to travel the world as an English language teacher. Along the way I fell in and out of love and sometimes accepted work so that I could be closer to my current boyfriend, rather than for the career prospects. It wasn’t only me making emotional decisions. I met countless people who took jobs where the main benefit was greater proximity to their partner. Others had planned to use their teaching skills to travel the world, but had settled in their first destination because they fell in love. There were those who had moved to a country which neither one was from to make their relationship work. And yet still more who found themselves single after a breakup.
When I began to research migration I found that people like this weren’t talked about. Migration was something that people did because of political or economic reasons. Personal life was left out. This is how the Love Migration Project began. One of my motivations for this research is to explore the emotional dimension of migration, because personal life is so important in many people’s migration.
Why do we need this research?
In this unique study I aim to talk to couples about their experiences of migration and love. It will help to understand migration through the lens of emotional life. In short, the project is about the power of love to compel people to move around, or to stay put, or to have long-distance relationships; or to stay put in a place which is not their own country. This research will provide a snapshot of how love and migration intersect.
What is involved?
I’m asking couples in Brussels to share their thoughts and feelings about their experience of migration by talking about an object they have chosen. What you say is up to you.
Generally the interviews take about an hour. It’s an informal interview in which you talk about an object which has some meaning for you both. The interviews are done with couples, together. I am also looking for a smaller number of single people to talk about their experiences of relationships and migration.
Why should we take part?
Taking part will give you a small window in an otherwise busy life to reflect briefly on your experiences of love and migration – something that we don’t often get a chance to do. You will have time to tell your own story in your own words, which will be preserved as part of the research archive. Is your experience of love and migration similar to or different from other people’s? Taking part in the Love Migration project will give you the opportunity to think about these ideas.
Your time and commitment are invaluable to the project; without you, the project cannot work. There is no financial incentive to taking part, but it also won’t cost you anything; only your time. People who have taken part so far have said they enjoyed the experience and found it rewarding.
Contributed by Yvonne Salt.
The Love Migration Project is part of Yvonne Salt’s doctoral research at the University of Sussex, UK. Find out more at www.lovemigration.com or email Yvonne Salt at [email protected].