Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Integration, Integration

I must admit I’m a regular viewer of Relocation, Relocation but there’s one issue which keeps bugging me with these kinds of programmes - the scant regard for cultural integration.

Most programmes feature an affluent couple from the city wishing to relocate to “the country”, which is usually a long away from their previous home.

There’s nothing wrong with that but does it not concern the programme makers that the current level of mass migration to “the country” has negative cultural and social effects, especially when the migrates are unwilling to integrate into the existing culture or at least learn something about it beforehand?

In Cymru this has meant house prices are now way above the level of which most local people can afford. The “housing crisis” we have today is not lack of houses but a lack of people who need them but can’t afford them, especially first-time buyers.

Mass migration also continues to have a huge - mostly deteriorating - impact on the language and culture of our communities. Many Welsh towns and villages which were predominantly Cymraeg speaking have quickly turned into English speaking villages as large numbers of incomers don’t bother to learn and use the community language.

But the same goes for England too. Look at how areas in Cumbria, Yorkshire, and Cornwall have changed over the last few decades. You’ll find as many pissed-off locals there as you will anywhere in Cymru. The difference however is that something is being done about it - at least in the Yorkshire Dales and parts of Shropshire, and rightly so.

Personally, I can’t see the sense in moving to an area you know very little about. I’ve lived in Gogledd Ddwyrain Cymru all my life but if I planned to relocate to a different area, country, or nation, with a different language, culture, history, etc, I’d make it my priority to learn everything I could about the area so that I could integrate and contribute to the local community as best as I could, if for no other reason than through common courtesy and respect.

Programmes like Relocation, Relocation aren’t the cause of the problem, but they certainly fuel the fire. There should be a disclaimer on every episode which reads something like: “Be sensitive to the area in which you want to relocate. If you find there is a difference in culture, language, etc, then respect that. After all, you choose to move there. Instead of forcing your own culture on them, educate yourself beforehand and learn to integrate into to your new community in a positive way.”

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