"I’m originally from England, but I’ve been living in Brussels for five years, working for the European institutions. My great grandparents were from India, but my grandparents and my parents were born in Uganda. In the 1970s after Idi Amin came to power in Uganda, my parents had to flee the country as refugees and they went to the UK. Other members of my family are spread out across the UK, Canada and the United States.
I would see myself as a British Indian – through my job and my residency in Belgium I also see myself as more European. But once your family has been forced to flee from a place, you learn to become a person of the world, rather than of a particular country.
Home is a place that you can relate to, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to adapt to every single aspect of that country. It’s not really defined by language, the colour of your skin, ethnicity, or race, it’s where you make your place.
I did experience racism growing up in the UK, in the village that I grew up in, at school and at university. I have experienced hate speech and racist comments, but I haven’t experienced the structural discrimination that many people from minority backgrounds go through. Refugees and migrants coming to the European Union today are often victims of hatred and mistrust.
When someone moves to another country there are so many things at play, they have to learn the culture and norms in the place they’re going to. My advice is to be resilient in order to handle all situations. There are incidents of hostility that can be faced in any new country, but we shouldn’t let that hinder our integration."
photo credit: iom/thomas marchal