Liz Wenger on prestigious POLITICO28 list of "European high-fliers"

Image credit: Luke Waller for politico.eu

Image credit: Luke Waller for politico.eu

I am extremely grateful and honoured to be featured as one of the top 28 people in Europe who are stirring and shaping European public life by the prestigious POLITICO Magazine.

On December 2, 2015, POLITICO released their list of "European high-fliers" under the heading POLITICO 28. In their words:

POLITICO 28 will be an annual affair — our version of the “chapeau” or “hats-off” magazine in which we acknowledge women and men of consequence, those who caught our attention this year and bear watching closely into the next.
Senior editors solicited nominations widely and winnowed them down this autumn. The result comprises people who aren’t in obviously powerful positions or those with overwhelming popular appeal, but who are, nonetheless, on the cusp of power, where the greatest influence is so often exerted. Those on our list all have the ability to shape their sphere of impact, whether it be a country, a transnational activity, a legal system, a referendum, a religion, a crisis or even the very notion of European identity.

What a tremendous honour to be on a list with such an amazing group of people as the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, and the European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager! I'm also one of 13 women and the youngest nominee on the list.

You can read more about POLITICO's selection process here and read the entire interview with me here.

I have written a lot about Luxembourgish culture and the importance of the Luxembourgish language for the purposes of integration on this blog and for publications such as Discover Benelux. With the current migration crises and the influx of refugees into well-established neighbourhoods, this is a question that concerns us all: how do we integrate people without losing our own local values? How do we welcome refugees and their diversity all the while imparting our cultural heritage and values on them so that we can all live harmoniously with a mutual understanding of each other?

Language certainly isn’t the only answer to this question but it is a crucial factor in my opinion. We all have a basic human need to communicate and to be understood. When two people speak the same language, there is an immediate feeling of having something in common. Luxembourgers of all people know this as practically everyone has had the experience of being on holiday somewhere and suddenly hearing someone else speak Luxembourgish when everyone else speaks a different language. What happens next is that these two people will inevitably introduce themselves and two strangers will end up talking together and feeling united through a common language.

With roughly 45% foreigners living in Luxembourg, speaking all kinds of different languages, I believe we can achieve the same feeling of unity and solidarity through the common language of Luxembourgish. This applies not only to the refugees coming into Luxembourg, but to all other foreigners who are currently not very well integrated. The immigrants, the expats, the Americans, the Portuguese, the English, the French… a lot of different groups of foreigners have told me that their social and cultural lives mainly revolve around people like them but that this creates a feeling of being isolated in Luxembourg. Many are unable to make friends with people outside of their group.

It’s certainly not every foreigner in Luxembourg who is not well integrated and Luxembourgers have to play their part, too, in helping foreigners speak Luxembourgish as opposed to switching to French, German or English. It’s a common effort for a common goal: to erode the perception of individual differences and live together harmoniously.

My mission is to increase the understanding of our culture and language and to make them more accessible to everyone who wishes to do so. That is why I am “integration champion” according to POLITICO.  

I insist that discovering something new is fun, both for Luxembourgers talking to foreigners and for foreigners talking to Luxembourgers. This is not a political mission for me. For those of you who know my story, know that this is a personal matter for me. Having lived in Luxembourg with my Canadian husband for five years, I know what it means to try to integrate.

I’m not the only one with this mission in Luxembourg. In fact, the mission is shared by many private people, other small entrepreneurs, philanthropists and last but not least, the Luxembourgish Government.

I’m looking forward to partnering with the different Luxembourg ministries in our common goal of education and integration, and I know that the recognition I have received from POLITICO demonstrates how serious I am in this shared mission.