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The importance of intercultural communication when working with refugees

Emy Poljanšak
University of Ljubljana
Year of Publication

The master’s thesis studies intercultural communication when working with refugees. The
theoretical part introduces two subjects: refugees and communication. The terms refugee and migrant are
defined, the reasons for leaving their home countries are given, and their road to Europe is described. The
thesis is focused on unaccompanied adolescents and the process of seeking international protection in
Slovenia is explained. Special attention is given to communication and intercultural communication and
to the questions are raised as to what is the meaning of intercultural competencies and culturally
competent social work practice. The empirical data analysis is based on semistructured interviews with
refugees and social workers from an asylum centre and nongovernmental organisations. The results show
that the interviewed social workers think they have sufficient intercultural communication competencies,
while the refugees participating in the study state also some negative experiences in their communication
with the professional workers. The biggest limitation of the study and the study findings is connected with
small, unrepresentative samples of both populations. One of the suggestions, based on the thesis
conclusion is to carry out a survey among applicants seeking international protection in asylum centres
regarding their satisfaction with social services at least once a year.