José

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"No matter where you come from, you can integrate a new society, if the other side will allow you to."

"I live in Brussels now, away from my natural home, Portugal, so I am a migrant. But my father was a diplomat and we travelled a lot around the world, so I know what it is to be out of your comfort zone. In a way I was lucky, a “luxurious migrant” because I didn’t feel that I was left out of anything and I wasn’t fleeing war or conflict – some of the things that migrants are facing today, and issues that are at the top of the political agenda.  

Home is where you feel welcome and accepted. There was once a philosopher who said he was an inhabitant of the world, and I think we should all feel that way.

Moving around was not always easy – it’s rare, but sometimes you can come across ignorant people that make you feel uneasy because you’re not a local. It’s not fair, and of course it’s not the right attitude, but you have to try to overcome that. If you can, you have to call those people to the side and explain that it’s not easy to be away from home. They might one day come to your country, and if you know that they would be treated well when the roles are reversed, you can help them understand your point of view.

Racism stems from stupidity and ignorance, and some of that blame actually falls on the politicians. We should try to educate our constituents and countrymen to the realities of the world. No matter where you come from, you can integrate a new society, if the other side will allow you to.

photo credit: IOM/Thomas Marchal

2,047 kmfrom home
#iamamigrant
José
Occupation: 
Member of the European Parliament
Current Country: 
Belgium
Country of Origin: 
Portugal

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This migrant's life story touches on the following Sustainable Development Goal(s):